Russian official warns of Canada probe after country secretly takes in 31 people fleeing Chechnya
A Russian official has said that the country will launch a probe into Canada after the country saved 31 LGBT people from Chechnya.
Kirill Kalinin, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Ottawa said that the country will face “consequences” after it allegedly secretly helped the group of people flee.
Kalinin said that if any “legal irregularities” were found and “proven true” they will be “duly investigated”.
He made the comments to the Globe and Mail but declined to comment further on the basis that a Canadian official had not spoken on the matter.
The charity worked in close contact with Canada to arrange emergency visas and travel for those who escaped Chechnya.
The organisation’s Director Kimahli Powell travelled to Chechnya to greet the refugees while arrangements were made.
“We were able to quickly intervene and receive a response from the Canadian government because we are one of the few — if only — major international organizations focused on moving LGBTQ people out of immediate danger to safety,” Powell said in a statment.
Those who were rescued fear that if they speak out about their oppression they will come under even more persecution.
70 people have so far escaped to Russian safe houses from Chechnya and Rainbow Railroad, working with the Russian LGBT Network, has said it has been in contact with 140 people in the country.
“Seeking asylum is not a way of jumping the queue,” Powell added.
“It’s about responding when a person’s right to protection is removed by the state or anyone else, as is the case in Chechnya for LGBTQ people right now.”
Earlier this year Russian paper Novaya Gazeta uncovered that hundreds of gay and bisexual men living in the region of Chechnya were being tortured and some were even killed.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the region disregarded the claims and said that there were no gay men living in Chechnya because they are “fake Chechens”.
He had also pledged to eliminate the entire gay community by the start of Ramadan, which was in May.
Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.
Following the initial exposure, it was revealed that authorities were forcing gay men into camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.
A number of heart breaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.
Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.
Novaya Gazeta recently confirmed the names of 27 men who were killed on one night in the region.