Activists have reported that the arrests and detention of gay men in the Russian region of Chechnya are continuing, as a Russian newspaper reveals the extent of the region’s alleged extrajudicial killings.
The Russian LGBT Network, an activist group helping get Chechen men to safety, has said that the arrests of the gay men in the region did stop after international outcry but began again in late June.
“For a while, it seemed as though new arrests of gay men had stopped, but … the Russian LGBT Network has learned from survivors contacting their hotline for help that arrests have just resumed,” the Russian LGBT Network and All Out said in a joint statement.
“We know that both the victims and their relatives have experienced threats. The authorities are threatening to press criminal charges against them based on false accusations.
“The Russian LGBT Network will use its best efforts to make sure that the crime against humanity that has been happening in Chechnya will be investigated, and those responsible will be held accountable.”
Novaya Gazeta, the independent Russian-language publication which was the first to report the alleged campaign of persecution in April, has also published the names of 27 men who the paper claims have been executed by Chechen authorities.
Citing two anonymous sources, the paper alleges the men were shot in an illegal mass execution by Chechen security officials in the city of Grozny on January 25, after several weeks of detention. It’s unclear if the men named by the publication are linked to the anti-gay campaign.
Novaya Gazeta said a source within the Interior Ministry provided the newspaper with the names of suspected victims, none of whom the paper’s journalists have been able to locate.
The Gazeta said they believe as many as 56 men may have been killed, and the publication explained its decision to publish the list of names came after the Russian government’s failure to properly investigate the claims.
Novaya Gazeta’s first allegations of the gay persecution in the region were met with international condemnation, and Australian senators from all sides united last month to move a motion calling for stronger international action.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured) has repeatedly denied the reports of state-sanctioned violence against gay Chechen men, going as far as denying any gay men exist in the region at all.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the Senate last month “credible information” indicated “very serious” abuses had occurred and the Australian government had raised the issue with the Russian government on five separate occasions, in both Moscow and Canberra.
(Photo by Kremlin.ru)