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Chechen man publishes video denying homosexuality following detention

21 February 2023
Idris Arsamikov. Image via NC SOS Crisis Group.

Chechen Idris Arsamikov, who was last week reportedly detained in a Moscow airport, has published a video calling for ‘queers to stop defending [his] rights’. Rights organisations claim that the videos were made under duress. 

Arsamikov, 28, was reportedly detained at Domodedovo International Airport on 16 February, presumably while attempting to leave Russia.

NC SOS Crisis Group, a queer rights organisation based in the North Caucasus, sent a lawyer to the airport to assist him and was informed that Arsamikov had been detained at the request of Chechen security forces.

The group later stated that Arsamikov was charged with fraud and was ‘presumably taken to Chechnya’ where he would be in ‘mortal danger’.

The organisation says that they helped Arsamikov flee Russia in 2018 after the young man was detained and tortured by Chechen security forces for having an intimate relationship with a man.

He had lived in the Netherlands since and had reportedly returned to Russia to attend his father’s funeral in March 2022.

[Read on OC Media: Queer Chechen man reportedly detained at Moscow airport]

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The day after his disappearance, Arsamikov posted two videos on his VK account, in which he said he was in his home in Chechnya. He urged the ‘queers’ to ‘leave off attempting to protect any of [his] rights’. 

‘You insulted me!’ said Arsamikov in one of the videos. ‘And I am a patriot, like my two brothers who serve in Ukraine. I will soon receive [medical] treatment and probably also go to Ukraine […]. I’m a man, and I will get married [to a woman] soon.’

Arsamikov said that he had returned to Russia ‘to earn money’ and was detained at the airport because he had ignored past subpoenas against him.

He stressed that his rights were valued in Chechnya and demanded that the media and human rights activists leave him and his family alone.

His mother and uncle both appear in one of the videos, also urging viewers to ‘leave Idris alone’. 

The Crisis Group says that Arsamikov was coerced into recording the videos under duress, claiming that his uncle, who appears in the video, Yunus Arsamikov, has ties with law enforcement agencies.

‘The rhetoric, choice of words, backstory, and similar incidents suggest that he was asked to record the video due to public outcry’, the Crisis Group stated in a Telegram post. ‘Such public “repentance” in an attempt to whitewash the authorities is a frequent practice in Chechnya.’

They also noted that this is not the first time that Chechen law enforcement agencies have forced people to record and publish videos denying certain facts or apologising.

The organisation and the Crew Against Torture submitted joint statements to the United Nations regarding Arsamikov’s alleged abduction, detention, and torture due to his sexual orientation.

The two organisations anticipate that the UN will formally request Russian authorities to inquire about the young man’s whereabouts and condition.

On Friday, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra wrote on Twitter that he was ‘deeply worried about the fate of Idris #Arsamikov, who was arrested at Domodedovo airport in Moscow and extradited to the regime in Grozny’.

‘The Netherlands calls on the Russian authorities to guarantee his safety and safeguard his human rights’, he wrote.

Read in Azerbaijani on Mikroskop Media.