Over 100 gay and bisexual Chechen men and women have fled the country to escape persecution based on their sexual orientation in the past year, a Russian LGBT rights group has reported.
The LGBT Foundation, which is the leading LGBT+ rights group in Russia, has reported that a staggering number of LGBT+ people have fled the nation after a violent purge of gay Chechen men took place in 2017.
The network reported that in the summer of 2017, at least 200 gay people were held in secret prisons throughout the region, where many are reported to have been beaten and electrocuted, reports The Moscow Times.
Thirty-six people suffered “abusive treatment” in secret prisons in the North Caucasas.
The abuses were said to have been “directed by the highest officials” in the state.
“They threw me to the floor and beat me. They beat my chest and my face with their feet, and they hit my head against the floor.”
One of them said: “Do not beat him until the shock stage, at that point he will stop feeling pain. We don’t need that.”
They addressed me with female pronouns and demanded that I tell them the names of other gay people I knew. They threatened to kill me if I didn’t,” said one person who was arrested.
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“One of the 6 kidnappers, all of whom wore a military uniform, said: “Get this faggot into the car and let’s go.” I feel nauseated when I try to recall all the humiliating things they said about my homosexuality,” said one man who was kidnapped on the streets for being gay.
Although Chechnya is a federal subject of Russia, it is subject to the rules of leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has led the republic for more than a decade.
“Ten years ago, in 2007, Moscow granted the authority over the Chechen Republic to a then 30-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov,” explained the group in the document.
“Authorized to fight the Islamist separatists by the Russian state, he was exempt from the rule of Russian law. The immunity that the Kadyrov’s authorities were granted became the basis for the absolutist regime that exists in Chechnya to this day,” they added.
However, Russia has also persecuted its LGBT+ community, with one family saying they were not allowed to work or educate their daughter, forcing them to flee.
Another gay man escaped to Belarus because “at least he would not be killed”.
“The UK remains deeply concerned by the ongoing persecution of members of the LGBT community in Chechnya. We and our partners will continue to urge Russia to follow through with their commitment to investigate these abuses and hold those responsible to account,” said FCO minister Sir Alan Duncan.
“We also call on Russia to uphold its international commitments and protect all its citizens from persecution.”
Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the attacks, stating that the republic has not purged any LGBT+ people because LGBT+ people do not exist in Chechnya.