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This Russian government official gave a chilling response to Chechnya’s gay purge

Nick Duffy June 2, 2017
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A Russian official was filmed giving a deplorable response to a question about Chechnya’s homophobic purge.

More than 100 people have been detained, tortured and 26 killed since the purge of gay men began in the Russian region of Chechnya two months ago.

The Russian LGBT Network has helped to evacuate many more men from the region, while parts of the LGBT community remain in hiding.

Russian officials have vowed to ‘investigate’ the reports after international pressure, but human rights watchdogs fear a cover-up. The regional government continues to insist gay people do not exist.

In a chilling exchange in a Moscowpress conference today, a spokesperson for the country’s Foreign Ministry responded aggressively to a question on the topic from a Finnish journalist, Erkka Mikkonen.

Mr Mikkonen, who has reported on the purge, asked the official whether she agreed with the Chechen claims that “there are no homosexuals in Chechnya”.

The official responded by asking for the reporter’s name and details of his employment, which she repeated into the camera in an apparent message for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Addressing the camera, she said: “Dear Mr Kadyrov, today at our briefing there is a representative of Finnish television Erkka Mikkonen.

“He is very interested in the subject of the presence or absence of gays in Chechnya. This is not a question for a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

“Could you organize a trip to the Chechen Republic for for this particular journalist, where he will be able to find answers to all his questions?”

Addressing the journalist, she said: “I think I did everything I could.”

She added: “I understand that this is your favourite subject… go there and write a good article.”

The journalist clarified that he has personally interviewed people who fled persecution, but the official spat back: “Go to Chechnya. I’m not saying you won’t find something on your favourite subject. Certainly, continue your investigation, but it should not be held inside the Minstry of Foreign Affairs.”

Pushed for an actual answer, she said: “Little remains but to go to Chechnya. You aren’t afraid, are you? Then that’s all.”

Asked if he should be afraid, she responded: “What matters is you should decide for yourself what you want.”

The press covering Chehcnya have plenty of reasons to fear for their safety.

The Russian journalists who initially uncovered the story were forced into hiding after ‘jihad’ was declared against them.

Related topics: Chechnya, Europe, Gay, homophobic, LGBT, purge, Russia, Russia

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