The Horrifying Persecution Of Gays In Chechnya
Over the last month, more than 100 men were arrested and detained in Chechnya on allegations of homosexuality. A Russian opposition newspaper, the Novaya Gazeta, reported that the order was given for a “prophylactic sweep” of the region and the mass round-up resulted in the murders of at least three men. The survivors were then put in ‘camps’ near the town of Argun.
Svetlana Zhakarova, a spokesperson for the Russian LGBT Network, spoke to the MailOnline saying, “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region. Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”
A spokesman for Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov called the reports “absolute lies and disinformation” going on to say that “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.” He went on to say, “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
I suppose if you’re the kind of person who can dismiss the existence of 10% of all people everywhere, you’re the kind of person who can doublethink their way out of guilt over a concentration camp.
Equally disturbing was the dismissal of the initial story by the interior minister of the region, which broke on the first, as an April Fool’s joke.
In the opinion of Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Russian project director for the International Crisis Group, it is anything but. She says it fits into a wider trend of violence against the LGBT community in Russia, a nation where even the discussion of homosexuality is taboo and so specific accounts are difficult to verify. She said, “It’s next to impossible to get information from the victims or their families, but the number of signals I’m receiving from different people makes it hard not to believe detentions and violence are indeed happening.”
I’m certainly more inclined to take her word over the lackeys of a dictator. When I say dictator I mean Ramzan Kadyrov, whose power is basically unchecked within the province. Chechnya’s relationship with Russia is complicated, but in the wake of two wars, Kadyrov was able to strike a deal with Moscow which would allow him and his private militia to govern with quasi-autonomy in the region while remaining part of the Russian Federation.