Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published a follow-up article to their initial report on the arrest, abuse, and alleged killing of LGBT citizens in Chechnya, Russia. The new, in-depth article [warning: disturbing images] cites testimonials submitted to a Russian LGBT hotline by victims who claim they were subjected to abuse in a secret prison in the Chechen city of Argun (shown above).
Their experiences range from repeated beatings with sticks to electroshock torture as well as being denied food. Witnesses claim to have seen others beaten to death. They report that their phones were taken and left turned on so that any acquaintances who might call could also be rounded up by police.
The official response of the Chechen government is chilling:
“Men in Chechnya lead a healthy lifestyle, practice sports and have only one [sexual] orientation, defined since humankind creation. There are no other orientations in Chechnya,” the head of the Chechen interior ministry’s press service, Magomed Deniev, told RIA, adding that his statement is supported by “high birth rate” in the region. “If there were such people [gays] in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have any issues with them, because their relatives themselves would be sending them to places from where no one returns.”
So, basically if you’re gay in Chechnya and the police don’t find you, the government will rely on your family to either exile or kill you. The response from Vladimir Putin’s federal government so far has been tepid and mainstream Russian media has not yet acknowledged the validity of these events.
We have no reason to doubt the investigative reporting of Novaya Gazeta, a respected publication that we see as Russia’s version of The Guardian, and we encourage you to share the story of these victims to help raise international awareness and pressure.