Reports have emerged that gay men in Chechnya – a republic in South West Russia – are being actively sought out, arrested and murdered by official authorities. Disappearances were confirmed over the weekend by leading Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
The paper reported that, in the space of a week over 100 gay men had allegedly been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such”. The newspaper had the names of three murder victims, and suspected many others had died in extrajudicial killings.
Novaya Gazeta claim that they know the names of three murder victims already, citing “an unprecedented number of sources” claiming that there have been many more since the arrests began. Among the detainees are prominent, influential and religious leaders and two well-known Chechen TV personalities.
The newspaper claims authorities have been specifically seeking out closeted gay men by posing as men looking for dates and hookups on social networking sites and dating apps. Many of those released have fled the area. ‘Honour killings’ are still widespread and coming in Chechnya, with families murdering gay family members to rid themselves of “shame”.
Alvi Karimov, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied the report made by Novaya Gazeta, claiming that “you cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return,” he issued.
Amnesty International have previously released detailed reports covering widespread human rights issues in Chechnya. In 2009, AI revealed that those abused in the republic had no method of redress against assaults, ranging from kidnapping to torture, while those responsible were never held accountable.
The same year, Kadyrov expressed his views on why seven young women who had been shot in the head deserved to die, claiming they were rightfully murdered by male relatives for having “loose morals”.