Global Citizen previously reported that gay men were being abducted and executed by the Chechen government. A local newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, broke the news that up to 100 gay men were arrested and detained at camps, as many faced torture with electric shocks, with at least three murdered. Since publishing the accusations, the paper has come under threat, as Elena Milashina, the journalist who first broke the story, has gone into hiding. The abductions began after GayRussia applied for permits to stage LGBT pride events in four major cities, including in the district where Chechnya is located, according to The New York Times.
Now, a survivor from one of the camps has provided a first-hand account of the horrors faced by the homosexual men in a rare interview with France24, including accusations that the prisons order executions to be completed by family members.
“They tell the parents to kill their child,” the man says, identity concealed with a grey hoodie and a vocoder to maintain vocal anonymity. “They say: ‘either you do it or we will’. They call it ‘cleaning your honour with blood.’”
“They tortured a man for two weeks. They summoned his parents and his brothers who all came. They said to them ‘your son is a homosexual, sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves’. They replied: ‘It’s our family; we’ll do it’. The family took him and killed him in the forest. They buried him there. They didn’t even give him a funeral.”
The interviewee adds that he cannot return home, because his family will kill him.
“We’ve always been persecuted but never like this. Now they arrest everyone,” he said. “They kill people. They do what they want. They know that nobody will come after them because the order has come from above to ‘cleanse the nation’ of people like us.”
Previous testimonies have corroborated the claims of torture and murder. A man who called himself “Ruslan” labelled the purge an “extermination of gay men” in an account given to the BBC. Anzor, who also survived the ordeal, described the torture to AP as “like they are breaking every bone of every joint in your body at the same time.” Another, called “Arthur”, told Sky News that a police chief threatened to take away a family member unless he turned himself in — he fled instead. Other personal accounts have been shared in the video below, read by men who have successfully sought asylum in the US.
Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for President Ramzan Kadyro, denied the accusations, claiming that “you cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist.”
According to British MP Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the self-governing Russian republic aims for the entire gay community to be “eliminated by the start of Ramadan”, which begins May 26
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that 20 LGBT activists were arrested at a May Day parade in St. Petersburg after protesting the persecution of gay men in Chechnya. All over Russia, activists are working towars gaining the ear of the international political community. Is anybody listening?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue in talks with Vladimir Putin on May 2, and urged the Russian president to “use his influence to guarantee the rights of minorities.” It was Merkel’s first visit to Russia since 2015, but she pledged persistence over continued clashes, saying, "I am always of the view that even if there are serious differences of opinion in some areas, talks must continue."
But in an interview with Yahoo News, a spokeswoman from the Russian Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the situation, claiming that it’s “not my field," and saying nothing more than that Russia is “holding an investigation."
Katie Couric asked a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman about the torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya.— Raymond Braun (@raymondbraun) April 28, 2017
Her response is telling. pic.twitter.com/WOpZNCeDjJ
The picture becomes clearer as more men come forward with personal experiences of the purge. As further updates come in, Global Citizen will report the facts as they’re confirmed.