Frightened by Investigative Committee check, gay-intolerable Chechnya policemen deny everything, suggest gay parade
Chechen policemen ignore invitations to investigators and firmly deny everything, or declare their tolerance for homosexuals. The Head of the Department of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (OMVD) Argun felt bad when he found out that the investigation had lists of those killed, and the Head of the Grozny police even suggested holding a gay parade in the Chechen capital.
Chechnya's pre-investigation check of reports on murders and harassment of homosexuals conducted by the investigative group of the central office of the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) headed by Igor Sobol, the Deputy Head of the Office of Investigations of the ICR in the North Caucasian Federal District, is complicated by a number of factors. Novaya Gazeta reports the investigative actions, lasting for almost a month, caused panic and sabotage among the siloviki. According to the investigators, in spite of Ramzan Kadyrov's promise to facilitate the verification, it is vice versa that is taking place.
Thus, the questioned policemen refused to participate in the investigative actions, ignored the summonses and came to the investigators only after the threat of arrest. They obviously denied all the events described earlier by the media, being jittery. Thus, according to Novaya Gazeta, Argun Ayub Kataev, the Head of the OMVD, whom the victims who experienced the Argun prison refer to as one of the key curators of the mopping-up, felt under the weather as soon as he learned that the investigation had personal data of dozens of those killed, and if a criminal case is instituted, the investigation may demand the exhumation of bodies.
Magomed Dashaev, the head of the Grozny police, suddenly declared his tolerance for homosexuals: "Nobody will touch them now, even if parades are held in the center of Grozny".
Kheda Saratova, a member of the Human Rights Council (HRO) under the Head of the Republic, one of the first who lambasted Novaya Gazeta, did not come to the investigator at all, attributing to illness.
The building of the secret prison in Argun, about which Novaya wrote, was inspected. The location of the buildings and rooms in which the prisoners were held was fully congruent to the description of the refugees from Chechnya, who were in it earlier. However, the barracks where, according to the descriptions, illegally detained gays and drug addicts were kept, were buried with a lot of construction debris till the roof level.
Secret prison in Argun
According to Novaya Gazeta, immediately after the first reports the prisoners of the Argun prison were transferred to the Russian Special Police Force base Terek. However, within a few weeks the investigators did not manage to inspect it, since all this time "the trainings took place" there.
In addition, investigators of the central department of the ICR learned that the Chechen security forces began to exert pressure on the relatives of victims and fugitives, demanding that they sign a statement with the standard text stating that "their son (or brother) (full name) left the republic to work in Moscow in late February. There are no claims to the Chechen police".
Evidence of one of these cases is recorded in the form of voice messages on the phone. Novaya Gazeta intends to pass the name and position, as well as the telephone number of the officer of the Chechen police, the author of voice messages, to the investigation. One of the victims identified him, stating that the officer personally tortured the detainees on suspicion of their homosexual orientation.
The publication also notes that they have transferred new data on four dead residents of Chechnya to the investigation for verification. Three of them were killed on suspicion of homosexuality (among them – an employee of Rosgvardia), the fourth was detained on suspicion of extremism and also killed. His murder occurred after the beginning of the investigation in the republic, which indicates that repressions are still on. This is confirmed by victims’ appeals registered by the Russian LGBT network, who left secret prisons only in early May, when the members of the ICR already worked actively in the republic.
Novaya Gazeta also reports on the first known victim of the repression against gay men in Chechnya, who is originally from Russia. It is reported that a resident of Izhevsk was detained by Chechen security forces in March, visited one of the secret prisons, after which he was released. However, he was later searched for and killed in the territory of Russia.
The publication writes that this information was obtained from a source from the MIA for Chechnya, noting the fact that there are employees among Chechen security officials, secretly helping the investigation. Thanks to their help the investigators received lists of the illegally detained in one of the secret prisons.
The publication notes that the pre-investigation check, conducted by the staff of the ICR in Chechnya, is hampered by the large volumes of actions planned by Igor Sobol, the head of the investigation team. At the same time, the procedural terms are clearly regulated – three days with the subsequent extension to 10, and then to 30 days. Then the head of the investigation team will make a formal decision to refuse to initiate a criminal case, which the leadership of the ICR should abolish, which will extend the inspection for another month, and possibly later for one more. According to the publication, such a period is necessary for investigators to carry out all planned screening activities and obtain the results of the appointed examinations.
It is worth noting that the pre-investigation verification of the facts of mass persecution of citizens in Chechnya was sanctioned by the federal center against Chechen authorities and security agencies for the first time in all 10 years of Ramzan Kadyrov's rule. The Novaya Gazeta journalists sent a number of evidence on the persecution of gays in Chechnya, as well as a list of 26 people killed since the beginning of 2017 as a result of extrajudicial executions to the investigation.
Yesterday it transpired that Tatiana Moskalkova, the human rights commissioner in Russia, would also send a group of her employees to Chechnya to check reports on crimes against Russian citizens of nonstandard sexual orientation, after which she will visit the republic herself.