Following on from reports emerging that gay men in Chechnya – a republic in South West Russia – are being actively sought out, arrested and murdered by official authorities, the Russian LGBT Network have exclusively told HISKIND that the UK government are yet to grant a single visa to LGBT+ men and women trying to escape Russia.
A spokesperson from the Russian LGBT Network exclusively told HISKIND that no visas have been granted to gay/bi men in Chechnya trying to escape Russia.
“The UK embassy in Russia knows about the situation,” the spokesperson explained. “They have raised their concerns but they are not currently making the step forwards towards helping us.”
The news comes despite UK Prime Minister Theresa May condemning the horrific allegations, calling the reports “utterly barbaric”
“Urgent action is also being taken to explore how best to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the region,” May wrote, despite no direct action yet being made to support and provide visas to those trying to escape.
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.”
So far, the Russian LGBT Network have evacuated 43 people from Russia, directing them to safety outside the country. “We are now in the process of negotiating visas for other people with five other countries. We are hopeful that governments will help us to evacuate people.”
Though the countries of which LGBT Chechens are successfully finding asylum within cannot be named, we are told that three of the countries are European and two are non-European.
Since they set up the emergency hotline, there have been 80 requests for help. Since then, the charity have lost contact with many of those who initially called for help.
“We are afraid that some of them were imprisoned or might have been killed,” the spokesperson tells HISKIND. “We don’t really know but its the sad reality of this.”
The Russian LGBT Network not only assists people in leaving the Republic, but also provides them with temporary housing, and offers psychological, medical, and legal help. Various charities across the globe have actively made physical and financial efforts to aid Russian LGBT Network’s evacuations, including Canada’s Rainbow Railroad.
An equivalent of $176,000 has been raised so far to assist the evacuation of LGBT people in Chechnya so far, with the Russian LGBT Network telling HISKIND that various fundraisers are being held across the UK, with the spokesperson citing an upcoming fundraiser with the University of Oxford’s Russian society being in the works.
All they can fully confirm is that “there were more than 100 imprisoned.”
“We are talking about hundreds of people since early January. We have no idea about how many people are still being detained.”
You can find out more about the Russian LGBT Network on their website here.