Gays' pursuit in Chechnya: tortures, beatings and extortions
After the publication of the resonant material, representatives of the LGBT community began to contact the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. Someone managed to escape to Europe, someone moved to other Russian cities, someone is still in Chechnya, hides and fears for their life.
While prominent Chechen figures unanimously declare that gays can not be killed in the Republic simply because they do not exist, Novaya Gazeta obtains new evidence proving their story. The hotline Novaya Gazeta launched together with the LGBT network, is receiving a lot of calls from homosexuals that fled from the Chechen Republic. Find the eerie details of their stories in the article.
On April 1, Novaya Gazeta published a scandalous story about mass detentions of suspected homosexuals in Chechnya. During the mopping-up for ‘homo’ orientation, about 100 men were detained, 3 of whom are already dead, according to the newspaper. The reports were confirmed by several sources of the publication, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic, the Kadyrov administration, the local FSB and Prosecutor's Office. Among the detainees are representatives of the Chechen muftiate, religious figures close to the head of the Republic, as well as a well-known Chechen TV host and hair stylist. According to the sources of the newspaper, those who are under the sweep have few chances to survive, as their relatives will not seek to investigate the reasons for their persecution or murder. In the Caucasus, a coming out is equivalent to a death sentence, so gays are identified through setups.
Kheda Saratova, member of the Human Rights Council under the Head of Chechnya
Moreover, after the scandalous article, human rights activists unanimously declared that there were no homosexuals in Chechnya. Kheda Saratova, member of the Council on the development of civil society and human rights under the Head of Chechnya, said that she "did not receive a single claim about a murder of a homosexual, but if she did, she would not have considered it." In her opinion, "even if such a person is killed by his relatives, they will not disclose it, and law enforcement agencies will show understanding." Human rights activist also stated: "homosexuality is an evil thing that every citizen of the Republic should fight against."
Press-secretary of the Chechnya Head Alvi Karimov
Ramzan Kadyrov's press secretary Alvi Karimov denied the very possibility of homosexuals’ existence in the patriarchal Republic. According to him, it is impossible to prosecute "those who do not exist in the Republic", adding, "If there were homosexuals in Chechnya, they would be sent to places of non-return."
Press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, in turn, said that law enforcement agencies would check information about the attacks and murders of gays in Chechnya. He also added that those citizens who believe that their rights have been violated could file complaints and appeal to court.
However, the sexual minorities persecuted by the security forces do not cherish illusions about the legal solutions to the issue. According to Novaya Gazeta, after the publication of the shocking story, LGBT community began to contact the editorial staff. Some managed to escape to Europe, some moved to other Russian cities, some are still in Chechnya, hiding and fearing for their life.
In support of previously disclosed information, the publication published several stories, which prove the bullying and persecution from Chechen law enforcers.
These people do not know each other, but they talk about the same facts. Mass repression of gay people in Chechnya began immediately after GayRussia.ru announced holding gay pride parades in four Caucasian cities. However, the starting point was detention of a certain man in a state of drug intoxication in February 2017. In his phone they found an explicit video and a whole list of contacts that gave away his sexual orientation. This was reported to Chairman of the Chechen Parliament Magomed Daudov (aka Lord), who is known for his control over all the law enforcers in Chechnya. He gave an order to detain everyone whose contacts were in the phone. This caused a chain reaction. The siloviki detained all men who had ever been in contact with the homosexual, and then all their friends. All of them were taken to an officially abandoned building of the former military commandant's office in Argun on Kadyrov Street.
The building of the former military commandant's office in Argun (secret prison)
According to the testimony of all who were there, the building is a secret prison, the existence of which is concealed. People are kept there for months: tortures, beating, humiliation, demanding to give out contacts of other homosexuals. The prisoners' phones are specifically kept on to see everyone who calls or texts. Half-dead men, often inadvertently in the hands of law enforcers, are extradited to relatives for huge rewards. However, according to testimonies of the people who visited the secret prison, not everyone managed to survive.
"The detainees were tortured, put on a bottle, and electrocuted. Some were beaten to death and returned to relatives like a bag of bones. I know for sure about two deaths..." said one of those who got out of prison and managed to escape abroad.
"They clipped the wires from the electric shock to arms and twisted the handle of the electric dynamo. It hurts. I suffered as much as I could, then I lost consciousness and fell. When the current is generated and the body begins to shake, you stop thinking and start to scream. All the time you sit and hear the cries of people who are tortured," another former prisoner wrote.
Hematoma after tortures in prison
"As soon as a person is brought to the premises, torture begins. Current or beating with polypropylene pipes. We were always beaten just below the waist: legs, hips, buttocks, and waist. They say that we are "dogs that do not have the right to live." They forced other prisoners to mock us. They have been there for years; most have already lost hope of getting free. And they have no choice. We understood," said another man, who escaped from Chechnya.
According to Novaya Gazeta's sources, including those who were in the prison, it was Lord, who was present at the release of the detainees and when they were handed over to their relatives.
By the time GayRussia.ru activists made the provocative statement about the actions planned, the people detained on suspicion of homosexuality had already been released. And now the prison is full again. Also, the publication is aware of 3 dead men after the torture by the siloviki. The fate of another person remains unknown, but most likely he died. Only Investigative Committee (ICR) can establish this accurately, provided it takes on the investigation of the case.
Novaya Gazeta intends to file to the ICR all the evidence received from those who were under the persecution of security officials. Moreover, the newspaper insists on the investigation of the atrocities that are going on in Chechnya. Therefore, while waiting for the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings, Novaya Gazeta is preparing an appeal to Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika with a demand to oblige Chairman of the ICR Bastrykin to verify the reports in accordance with Art. 144 and Art.145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Last week, the entire world has celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Internet. In the meantime, the Russian legislators have adopted new laws restricting the development of the Russian-speaking segment of the world wide web. The 'fake news' and 'internet insults' laws adopted under the pretext of protecting the society from manipulations and threat, including external ones, violate the Constitution and some federal laws in relation to the right to search for, obtain, and use information. Furthermore, the bill on ‘sovereign Internet’ passed in the first reading by the State Duma leads us directly to self-isolation.