LGBTIQ activists are warning of a “new wave” of arrests of gay people in the Russian region of Chechnya, 18 months after the Chechen purge of gay people triggered a global outcry.
Authorities detained at least 40 gay men and women in the past month. Two also died in detention after torture, the Russian LGBT Network said in a statement.
The LGBT Network program director Igor Kochetskov said it was impossible to know the exact number of those targeted. However, he alleged the involvement of law enforcement officers and the use of the same detention facility as the April 2017 persecutions.
“The local police make every effort to prevent victims from leaving the region or applying to the courts in the future.
“They take away documents, threat[en] the victims with the criminal proceedings against them or their close ones, and they force them to sign empty forms.”
Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta first revealed Chechnya’s violent crackdown on LGBTIQ people in April 2017. It earlier reported that gay women and men in the country again faced persecution.
Last Thursday, a warning appeared on social media urging vulnerable men and women to flee the region.
“We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible.”
Novaya Gazeta first reported in 2017 the abduction and torture of suspected gay men as part of an alleged purge.
Chechen man Maxim Lapunov bravely spoke out in October 2017 after he was arrested in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and detained and tortured for two weeks.
“They started beating me with batons,” he said.
“I’m not sure how long it lasted, but it was a long time… They hit my legs, hips, buttocks, back.
“They would hit me until I fell down, let me catch my breath, make me stand up, and start over.”
The Russian LGBT Network said they helped more than 150 people flee Chechnya since the purge began in April 2017.
‘Indisputable’ anti-gay crimes in Chechnya
Last month, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) last month published a damning report into abuses in Chechnya and called on Russia to investigate.
The OSCE report confirmed “very serious human rights violations” in Chechnya including “clear” and “indisuputable” crimes against the LGBTIQ community.
The Kremlin and Chechen government both repeatedly deny allegations of a Chechen purge of gays. However Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov has always been openly anti-LGBTIQ.
“We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays,” he said in 2017.
“If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home.
“To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
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