Russian Paper Claims Chechen Authorities Arresting and Executing Gay Men
On Saturday, Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, confirmed that the Chechen authorities were arresting and killing gay men.
The men were detained “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” the article claims. It is suspected that more than 100 gay men had been detained, three have been murdered, and it suspected that more were to follow.
A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader denied the report calling the article “absolute lies and disinformation.”
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” said spokesman Alvi Karimov. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them. Their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.
Men begin going missing.
The disappearances began after a gay rights group applied for permits to stage pride parades in four cities. The cities are located in Russia’s predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region. The group was not focusing on the Muslim areas. The overall goal was to apply for permits in provincial cities around Russia and collect the inevitable denials. This was done in order to build a case about gay rights and freedom of assembly with the European Court of Human Rights. The group applied to more than 90 municipal governments. This tactic was used rather than staging risky, unsanctioned gay parades.
The group had not applied for a permit in Chechnya, but in another Muslim region in southern Russia, Kabardino-Balkaria. The application request alone had prompted an anti-gay counter-demonstration. The backlash did not stop there.
“In Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders,” the newspaper reported. Authorities then set out to find and arrest closeted gay men. Even going so far as to pose as men looking for dates on social networking sites.
“Of course, none of these people in any way demonstrated their sexual orientation publicly, this equates to a death sentence,” the newspaper wrote of those detained in the sweep.
Fear spreads among gay men.
Gay men have begun deleting online accounts, or fleeing the region. The newspaper published contact information to aid men wanting to leave Chechnya for relatively more tolerant parts of Russia. However, getting that information to closeted gay men in the remote mountain region comes with challenges.
With the exception of a few human rights groups however, there has been little outcry from the international community. Whether that will change remains to be seen.