Amnesty International demands to investigate reports on gay chase and murders in Chechnya
According to human rights activists, members of the Russian LGBT community have organized a hotline offering assistance to those wishing to leave the Republic.
Amnesty International (AI), an international human rights organization, urged Russian authorities to "promptly investigate the reports on abductions, tortures and homicides of homosexuals in Chechnya", the statement posted on the organization's website on Wednesday, April 5 says.
Human rights activists noted that the reaction of officials of the Chechen Republic to the information published by Novaya Gazeta "varied from denial – for example, by press secretary of the Head of the republic Alvi Karimov – to veiled threats". This refers to Karimov's statement that there are simply no gays in the republic, so there is no one to pursue.
"If there were such people in Chechnya, the law enforcement bodies would not have any worries about them as their relatives themselves would send them to the address from which they do not return", – Karimov said.
The organization demands "to conduct prompt, efficient and thorough investigation of the reports on abductions and homicides in Chechnya of men considered to be homosexual, and to ensure the bringing to justice of persons found guilty or involved in such crimes".
"The authorities of the Russian Federation should also take all necessary measures to ensure safety of any person who may be at risk in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation, and condemn any discriminatory comments made by officials in the strongest terms", – the statement claims.
The demand is addressed to the Russian authorities, Head of the Investigation Committee Alexander Bastyrkin, Acting Head of the Investigative Directorate of Chechnya Sergey Sokolov and human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova.
Human rights activists believe that members of the Russian LGBT community have organized a hotline assisting those who want to leave Chechnya. "However it is likely that some of the offers of assistance made through the Internet can be used by organizers of crimes against LGBT people to monitor their potential victims", – Amnesty International warned.
Amnesty International reminds the federal and Chechen authorities that they have international human rights obligations that prohibit discrimination, as well as require investigation and prosecution for hate crimes.
Moskalkova promised to begin an audit after the appeal of Amnesty International
Tatyana Moskalkova, the human rights ombudsman in Russia, stated that she was ready to initiate an audit when the official appeal of Amnesty International would be registered. "As soon as we register it, I will begin an inspection straightaway", – the ombudsman promised (cited by RIA Novosti).
Prior to this regional human rights defenders reacted differently. Member of the regional human rights council Kheda Saratova said that the republic would "understand" the murder of gay people, however later she explained that she had let it lip because she was shocked by the information about presence of homosexuals in Chechnya.
Commissioner for Human Rights in the republic Nurdi Nukhazhiev called the messages "dirty provocations", since "it is impossible to persecute those who are simply not in the republic and can not be".
In early April Novaya Gazeta reported about the killings and mass arrests of homosexuals in Chechnya, and later publicized testimonies of people who were allegedly held in a secret gay prison in the Chechen city of Argun.
According to the newspaper, they were subject to torture and other ways of ill-treatment and forced to disclose information about other members of the LGBT community they know. One of the witnesses of the gay harassment, which began in the second half of February, claims that the detentions began after Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov had learned about gays in the republic.
The Kremlin announced that they did not consider this issue to be within the competence of the presidential administration.