Alarming reports have emerged from Chechnya – the Russian-controlled republic located in the Caucasus – indicating that authorities may be rounding up hundreds of gay men, some of whom are being summarily executed.
An expert on Chechnya who writes for the Russian opposition paper Novaya Gazeta along with human rights activists claim that regional police have arrested dozens, including television personalities and religious figures, on charges of homosexuality. According to the paper, a “command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep,’ and it went as far as real murders.”
Russia has a notoriously checkered history on LGBTQ rights. In 2013, Putin oversaw the enactment of draconian legislation that effectively outlawed gay and lesbian citizens from expressing their sexuality in public. This includes behavior ranging from individuals holding hands with their partner to people participating in LGBTQ rights advocacy.
A spokesperson for the Putin-appointed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, offered a flabbergasting response to the allegations that gay men ere being murdered by authorities, remaking that “you cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.” He went on to argue that if any LGBTQ individuals lived in the region they would have already been killed by their family members.
Verifiable details are hard to come by, but Ekaterina Sokirianskaia – a regional project director the International Crisis Group – explained that
It’s next to impossible to get information from the victims or their families, but the number of signals I’m receiving from different people makes it hard not to believe detentions and violence are indeed happening.
Among those detained, estimates currently suggest that three individuals have been killed by authorities, though the actual number could be much higher.
Impact Tap will continue providing updates as human rights violations continue in Russia and its satellite territories.