At least two people have been tortured to death and 40 detained in a new wave of state persecutions of queer people in the Russian Republic of Chechnya, Russian activists say.
The Circassian national movement in the North Caucasus has for years been under pressure from the authorities. Facing detention, prosecution, or outright violence, Circassian activists, scholars, and young people all feel the pressure, but there is much disagreement as to why they are being targeted.
Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova has said there are sufficient grounds to open a criminal case into Chechnya’s persecution of queer people, according to Russian news agency TASS. While human rights activists are continuing to push for a case to be launched, the Chechen authorities have continued to deny all accusations.
Security forces in Chechnya have a list of local celebrities suspected of being queer, according to a man who spent more than 10 days in a secret prison there. [Read more…]
Authorities in a number of cities in Krasnodar Krai have rejected a request to hold queer pride parades and street rallies. A number of local queer rights activists have been critical of the request, arguing that it could jeopardise their work.
The Russian LGBT Network has released witness testimonies from a number of queer people caught up in the systematic persecution of queer people in Chechnya. According to a report released by the group on 31 July, 64 people were evacuated from Chechnya over the last four months by the group, and 130 residents of the North Caucasus have appealed for help. The persecutions are still ongoing, the group says.
Authorities in Chechnya have found no evidence of oppression of queer men in the republic, Russian news agency Interfax reported, quoting Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov. The Ministry also intends to sue Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper which broke the story, for ‘spreading non–fact-checked information’, he said.
On 9 May, the Union of Writers of Chechnya published an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, requesting protection from what they describe as a ‘campaign of bullying’ by European countries and organisations against Chechnya and its people.
News of this April’s mass detentions, arrests, and murders of Chechnya’s gay and bisexual population has spread around the globe. While Chechen and federal authorities categorically deny all reports of this persecution, the mass media is filled with stories of men who managed to flee Chechnya. These events have pushed the Chechen people to contemplate the unstable place of their nation in the world.