Igor Yasin / Twitter
In another outrageous attack on civil liberties, the Russian authorities have stopped activists from delivering a massive petition against Chechnya’s anti-LGBT purge.
The activists, four Russians and one Italian, were arrested as they attempted to hand over the petition at the prosecutor general’s office in Moscow on Thursday morning.
They reportedly also carried large empty boxes intended to physically represent the online signatures.
The combined signatures of more two million people included in the petition came from three online petitions hosted on the the All Out, Avaaz, and Change.org websites.
Avaaz Campaign Director Bert Wander told The Guardian that the detentions were a “blatant attempt by Russia to intimidate those standing up for gay people, [which] will only draw more global attention to the horrors unfolding in Chechnya”.
Activist Igor Yasin posted a picture on Twitter of the five detained activists in “the paddy wagon”. They all appeared to be in good spirits. At least some of those arrested have been released.
Public demonstrations in support of LGBT equality are illegal in Russia under the country’s controversial law banning the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations.
Earlier this month, another group of activists were arrested in St Petersburg when they also attempted to demonstrate against the deadly persecution of gay men in Chechnya.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would support an official investigation into the purge which was reportedly conducted with the backing of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
According to reports, verified by numerous sources and victims, the Chechen authorities rounded up around 100 gay men, who were then detained in secret facilities, tortured and in some cases killed.
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”. It is unclear to what extent the persecution is still ongoing.