LGBT activists in Chechnya have confirmed that a renewed anti-LGBT crackdown is underway, with at least two deaths and dozens of arrests in the last month.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, both men and women are being targeted in the new wave of persecution.
Information received by the organisation suggests that around 40 people have been detained and tortured and that at least two were murdered.
It’s believed that the latest persecutions were sparked by the detention of the administrator of a support group for gay men in the North Caucasus on the VKontakte Russian social network, at the end of December.
The information supports a report last week by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper about “public warnings” on social media urging LGBT people “to leave the republic” for their owns safety.
The Russian LGBT Network’s Igor Kochetkov pointed out that it is impossible to name the precise number of victims that have been targeted. “However, we know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women,” he said. “At least two people died as a result of torture. We also know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in [the town of] Argun.”
Kochetkov revealed that local police are trying to prevent victims from leaving the region or applying for legal support. “They take away documents, they threaten the victims with criminal proceedings against them or their close ones, and they force them to sign empty forms.”
The new incidents follow a widely reported “purge” of gay men in Chechnya that started in February 2017. Dozens of men “accused” of being gay were rounded up, detained in secret facilities, tortured and in some cases killed. There were also claims that the families of some victims were urged by the authorities to murder their LGBT relatives in so called “honour killings”.
The Russian LGBT Network has evacuated 130 LGBT Chechens from the region. Maxim Lapunov, one of the few individuals who was brave enough to come forward, is still waiting for action to be taken against his abusers who kidnapped and tortured him.
“The Russian authorities are unwilling not only to stop the persecution, but also to acknowledge the fact of illegal detentions, tortures and killings of LGBT people in Chechnya,” said the network.
Chechnya is a semi-antonymous Russian republic ruled by dictator Ramzan Kadyrov and known for its human rights abuses against citizens. Following international outrage, President Putin promised an investigation into the LGBT crackdown but the authorities have still not prosecuted anyone.