Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta have claimed that at least six secret prisons are being used across Chechnya to hold and allegedly torture gay men across the area.
Allegations claim that the gay men being held as prisoners are being tortured by officials until their families pay police bribes. At the start of the month, Novaya Gazeta reported that up to 100 gay men had been detained and tortured in a secret prison in the town of Argun, however further reports reveal at least another five are in active use to persecute Chechnya’s LGBT+ population.
Chechen leader Razman Kadyrov has denied claims made by Novaya Gazeta that gay men have been rounded up, tortured and murdered, stating that “you cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
However, Britain’s deputy foreign secretary recently revealed that Kadyrov threatened that he would eliminate the gay community by the start of Ramadan on May 26th to local Russian media.
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Sir Alan Duncan told parliament: “Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.”
Survivors of the camps – who have now fled the area – detail horrific conditions where metal clamps were attached to prisoners’ fingers and toes before shockwaves were sent through their bodies.
In a recent meeting with Putin, Kadyrov reassured the Russian president not to believe the articles produced by leading opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Reports express concerns that gay men in the region have been deleting their social media in fear of being targeted and arrested after claims emerged that authorities were covertly using them to hunt LGBT+ men. Of those who escaped the camps, one told Novaya Gazeta that they were beaten until they revealed the identities of other LGBT+ people in the region.