Putin accused of allowing Chechnya LGBTI purge


In the wake of a new wave of violent anti-LGBTI persecution in Chechnya, Amnesty International has accused Russia of allowing the republic’s dictator free rein to target vulnerable people.

According to the Russian LGBT Network, around 40 people have been arrested since December by the Chechen authorities and at least two people have died under torture for being or being perceived to be LGBTI.

Natalia Prilutskaya, Russia Researcher at Amnesty International, said in an article published in The Moscow Times that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has presided over years of abuse against human rights defenders and LGBTI people.

She pointed out that it’s often forgotten that “Chechnya remains a part of the Russian Federation, which is a signatory to many international human rights treaties.” Prilutskaya noted that the Russian federal authorities have failed to take any action against Kadyrov or his government for the deadly oppression and torture of LGBTI people over the last two years.

In November 2018, the Russian authorities announced their refusal to open a criminal investigation into the 12 days of torture endured by Maxim Lapunov, one of the only victims prepared to publicly speak out about the abuse. He was caught up in the first wave of detentions that started in February 2017.

A December 2018 report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe accused Russia of shielding Chechen officials from scrutiny. Kadyrov is known to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last week, the US State Department expressed its concern about the latest crackdown. “We are deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya about renewed attacks against individuals perceived to be members of the LGBTI community,” said Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino in a statement.

“We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, and launch an immediate investigation into these human rights abuses.”

UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, earlier also condemned the abuse by Chechnya. “Very disturbing reports out of Chechnya about renewed persecution & detention of #LGBT people, inc 2 deaths in custody & 40 arrested,” he tweeted. “If this is true, it is totally unacceptable & Russian authorities must not only stop this from happening but hold those responsible to account.”

Prilutskaya urged the international community and governments around the world “to make it clear to the Chechen authorities that they are watching, and that these horrendous crimes do not happen in darkness.”

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