“M” word as in MUSLIM. Chechnya is the Islamic republic on Russia’s southern border, where the Kadyrov Regime has a policy of cleansing Chechen blood from what it sees as harmful elements – first and foremost – the Gay element.
Independent At least two people have reportedly been killed in what appears to be another crackdown on gay men and women in Chechnya. The news comes nearly two years after reports first emerged of mass arrests and torture in that notorious Muslim area.
Over two months in early 2017 at least three people were killed and nearly 200 people tortured, with many still missing. In a video address published on Monday, Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network, said at least another 40 gay people have been arrested and tortured in the latest wave. Two of them “did not survive the torture”, he said.
The majority of the arrested were taken to a detention centre in Argun, a semi-legal facility that achieved notoriety during the last wave of arrests. They were tortured, forced to sign blank witness statements and threatened with fabricated criminal prosecutions.
The region’s irascible leader, Ramzan Kadyrov (video below), who became president of the Chechen Republic in 2007 when Russian President Vladamir Putin signed a decree removing Alu Alkhanov from office, is tolerated by the Kremlin in exchange for security guarantees. He has denied issuing an order for the 2017 gay crackdown, but he has also made it clear that Chechnya remains virulently hostile to gay men and women.
For a long time, Moscow authorities said they could not investigate the allegations, since “no witness had come forward”. With the taboo nature of homosexuality in Chechnya, and the risk of “honour” killings, this was unsurprising, and few expected the situation to change. But in October 2017, one man, a Russian national who had been working in Chechnya, stepped forward.
30-year-old Maxim Lapunov (video below) recounted the terror of his own 12-day incarceration in March 2017. He described the howling, torture and blood-soaked cellars of the Argun detention centre. “I was sure they were going to kill me,” he told journalists. “I was preparing for that.”
Kochetkov’s LGBT Network has now issued a warning for all gay men and women to flee the region, and The Independent understands several have taken up the opportunity. But leaving is not always a straightforward choice/
“To coin a Russian phrase, it is like rabbits looking at a boa constrictor,” she said. “Gay Muslim Chechens are so paralyzed they are unable to think rationally, to devise survivor strategies, and get out.”
Complicated Muslim family relations make the situation more desperate. On the one hand, LGBT+ Chechens face the risk of “honour” punishments from relatives. Authorities have been particularly effective in using this as a way of outsourcing their own violence. On the other hand, Chechens understand attempts to flee the region may have negative effects for their family.
Chechen spokesman dismisses reports that 100 gay men have been rounded up, and some killed because “gay men do not exist”
“You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the Chechen republic.” That’s what a spokesperson for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in response to reports that at least 100 suspected gay men had been rounded up and arrested and tortured — and at least three killed — recently in the southern Russia republic, following gay rights activists’ efforts to secure permits for LGBTQ pride parades.
“If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their Muslim relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning,” he said. A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry of Chechnya told Russian newspaper RBC that reports of the roundup were little more than an “April Fool’s joke.”
Russia has federal authority over Chechnya, which is located in the majority-Muslim Northern Caucasus region. It functions semi-autonomously and is governed by strongman Kadyrov, an appointee and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since becoming president in 2007, Kadyrov has embraced aspects of Islamic religious fundamentalism that he says are appropriate given the region’s Muslim heritage, criminalizing “immoral activities” like drinking or gambling and condoning honor killings of women who commit adultery. Homosexuality is also often seen as grounds for honor killings, which authorities treat with “understanding.”