It has taken the Trump administration 180 days to address the open persecution of gay men in Chechnya – but still no word from the President himself.
In an interview that aired on HBO last Tuesday, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that there are no gay men in Chechnya, describing homosexuals as “subhuman”.
“We don’t have any gays,” he claimed. “If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise by to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
The Associated Press report that Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, has described these remarks as “very concerning and also upsetting.” She added that Washington has spoken with Russian officials “at the highest levels” about the issue. Despite these claims, there was no apparent discussion of Chechnya when President Trump met Vladimir Putin at the recent G-20 summit in Hamburg.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote to Mr Trump: “It is imperative that you forcefully raise this issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin when you meet him in Germany at the G-20 summit this week.”
Reports emerged in April that up to 100 gay men had been detained and tortured in a secret prison in the town of Argun; a further five such prisons are thought to exist across the region. Several men are known to have been publicly murdered by their families, who are facing no charges.
A letter from 53 members of Congress urged the President to condemn the imprisonment, torture and murder of gay men in the region; last month, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution condemning atrocities in Chechnya. It calls on Russian and Chechen officials “to immediately cease the abduction, detention, and torture of individuals on the basis of their actual or suspected sexual orientation, and hold accountable all those involved in perpetrating such abuses.”
The one mention of “Chechnya” on the Commander-in-Chief’s infamous Twitter timeline comes from 2013 when, in a surprisingly lucid moment, he corrects user @MarlboroStan, writing “You’ve got it mixed up. Chechnya is not the Czech Republic.”
@MarlboroStan You've got it mixed up. Chechnya is not the Czech Republic.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2013
Though it was originally feared that three men were murdered, a list detailing the names of 27 murdered gay men was recently released by Chechen authorities, with official figures fearing to be over 50. British Prime Minister Theresa May called for ‘urgent action’ following the outbreak of the news, but a spokesperson from the Russian LGBT Network exclusively told HISKIND that the British embassy had done nothing.