A man who survived the brutal crackdown against LGBT people in Chechnya has been kidnapped in St. Petersburg, Russia, apparently by his own family.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, a group of individuals who spoke Chechen, including his father, attacked Zelimkhan Akhmadov on Friday outside a safe house.
The 20-year-old Akhmadov (pictured) has been in hiding in Russia after he fled from the LGBT persecution in his homeland, and had already faced previous kidnapping attempts.
Akhmadov was forced into a car but, as he was driven away by his abductors, the registration number was taken down. A friend contacted the Russian LGBT Network and the police.
Officers were able to track down the vehicle and Akhmadov was found in a house along with his father. It’s been alleged that the kidnapping was arranged by the family.
The two men were taken to the police station where Akhmadov’s father called him “the shame of the whole family”, threatened him and claimed that the family had faced death threats because of him. He also demanded that his son appear in a video denying that there was a purge of LGBT people in Chechnya and stating that he not is gay, both of which Akhmadov refused to do.
The younger man was later released and is safe, assisted by the LGBT Network. A case of abduction is being investigated against the attackers, one of whom is reported to have been in possession of a law enforcement identification document.
Igor Kochetkov, co-founder of the Russian LGBT Network, said that individuals suspected of homosexuality are not only being persecuted in Chechnya, but also outside of the republic. The organisation has registered five cases of similar abductions, in which people were taken back to Chechnya by force.
“It means that the Russian authorities cannot or do not want to protect the Russian citizens not only in Chechnya, but also outside of Chechnya,” said the network.
Starting in February 2017, dozens of men “accused” of being gay were rounded up, detained in secret facilities, tortured and in some cases killed in Chechnya. There have also been claims that the families of some victims were urged by the authorities to murder their LGBT relatives in so called “honour killings”.
Chechnya is a semi-antonymous Russian republic, and is part of the Russian Federation. President Putin promised an investigation into the LGBT crackdown but the authorities have still not launched criminal investigations into the persecutions.