Image: File photo of women on their way to a Pride Parade courtesy of SnappyPete via Twenty20
The Russian LGBT Network has begun evacuating survivors of the new wave of Chechnya’s gay purge and documenting the horrific abuse and torture they have been subjected to.
In a statement released on Monday 21st January, the Russian LGBT Network said that suspected LGBT people are being held in two locations – in Argun and at a police station in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city.
“Once again, it proves that all the detentions, tortures and murders are committed by the law enforcement officers,” said the executive director of the Russian LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov.
The renewed detainment of suspected LGBT people began in December 2018, when at least 40 men and women were arrested. At least two have reportedly died from torture.
Survivors have told the Russian LGBT Network that the detainments began earlier in December than first thought. Whilst the reports of the abuse are very similar to those given by the men who survived the 2017 purge, the torture is “more violent and cruel” than before.
Survivors are reporting that both men and women are being tortured and raped with an “electric shock stick.”
Men are reporting having their heads shaved, being forced to wear women’s clothes and being called female names.
“They did not feed us. Sometimes they gave us some water, dirty water that was left after mopping. They gave us clean water only for prayer,” one of the survivors told the network.
Russian authorities have denied the claims of a renewed gay purge, with Chechnya’s minister of information, Dzhambulat Umarov last week calling the allegations “utter crap” whilst also saying that homosexuality “has no place” in Chechnya.
“Don’t sow the seeds of sodomy in the blessed land of the Caucasus,” Umarov told Radio Free Europe. “They will not grow,” unlike in “perverted Europe.”
The US State Department said in a statement on January 17 that it is “deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya.”
“We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, and launch an immediate investigation into these human rights abuses,” the statement said.
“We also urge the Russian Federation to ensure that the rights of all human rights defenders are fully respected in Chechnya, and those illegally detained, including Oyub Titiev, be immediately released.”
Amnesty International has launched a petition to pressure Putin to immediately stop the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya and bring those responsible to justice. You can sign the petition here.