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Queer Chechen man reportedly detained at Moscow airport 

16 February 2023
Footage released by NC SOS appears to show Idris Arsamikov being led away by an unknown man.

A queer man who fled Chechnya due to his sexuality has reportedly been detained at Moscow airport and taken in an unknown direction.

NC SOS Crisis Group, a queer rights organisation operating in the North Caucasus, reported Idris Arsamikov’s detention on Thursday.

Arsamikov had been living in the Netherlands but returned to Russia for his father’s funeral. Whilst in Chechnya, the group said Arsamikov was detained and beaten before being released. 

According to NC SOS, Arsamikov was again detained by Russian border guards as he attempted to board a flight at the Domodedovo International Airport.

The group, who sent a lawyer to the airport to assist him, said that border guards informed them that Arsamikov had been detained at the request of Chechen security forces, who they said were coming to collect him.

The organisation published a video on Telegram in which an ununiformed man attempts to take Arsamikov from the building. The lawyer, who was recording at the time, is heard telling Arsamikov that he does not have to go with the man, as he had not been placed under arrest.

‘The operative who came for Idris to the duty station of Domodedovo did not show any documents to the local police and refused to provide the lawyer with information about the detainee’s status’, the group wrote.

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Around two hours after the group first posted about Arsamikov’s detention, criminal fraud charges against him were presented.

NC SOS said the charges were fabricated, noting that the time the case was supposedly initiated, in December 2021, Arsamikov was in the Netherlands.

The group also said the charges against him were signed by the head of the Shelkovsky District Criminal Investigation Department, who they said had personally tortured Arsamikov in Chechnya to force him to confess to being queer.

‘Presumably, Arsamikov is now being taken to Chechnya, where he is in mortal danger’, the group wrote.

NC SOS told OC Media that they had information that Arsamikov was already in a police station in Chechnya, and that they had sent a lawyer to attempt to assist him.

The group said he was first detained and tortured by Chechen security forces in 2017 after they became aware he had had an intimate relationship with a man. They said he managed to escape and flee to the Netherlands with their assistance.

Queer people are regularly persecuted by the Russian authorities in Chechnya, with recurrent waves of repression in 2018, 2017, and 2016. 

Hundreds of men have reportedly been detained, and dozens killed. 

In their 2018 Nations in Transit report, American rights group Freedom House said there was ‘credible evidence of at least 31 deaths of Chechen men who were suspected of being gay’.

[Read on OC Media: Witnesses detail continuing anti-queer purge in Chechnya]