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Men believed to be gay are being “abducted, tortured or even killed in Chechnya as part of a coordinated campaign”.

According to a report by Russian independent daily newspaper, Novaya Gazeta released on 1 April, “hundreds of men believed to be gay have been abducted in recent days, as part of a coordinated campaign”.

The men were reportedly “tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals known to them”, according to an “urgent action” report by Amnesty International.

“The newspaper claims to have verified information about at least three men who had been killed by their captors, but sources say that there have been many more killings in the region since the campaign began just a few days ago,” the report continued.

An update posted on Novaya Gazeta’s website on April 4 2017 claimed that:

“Official representatives of the Chechen Republic habitually declared ‘slander’ and the dissemination of ‘gossip’. A spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Chechen Republic expressed the opinion that this was ‘an unsuccessful April Fool’s joke’.

“Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov’s advisor on religious affairs, Adam Shakhidov, accused the ‘Novaya Gazeta’ of ‘the whole nation’s reservation’, and the Union of Journalists of Chechnya suggested ‘not to consider Novaya Gazeta employees as journalists from now on’.”

Kadyrov’s spokesperson Alvi Karimov was reported by The Independent yesterday as saying:

“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic […]

“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

Amnesty International are calling for people to send immediate appeals to the Chairman of the Investigation Committee Aleksandr, Ivanovich Bastrykin, and Acting Head of the Investigation Committee for the Chechen Republic, Sergei Vasilievich Sokolov.

Sara Hall, Head of International Campaigns and Policy for Stonewall has said that:

“Due to the nature of the overall human rights situation in the region, and the bleak conditions for LGBT people even prior to this crisis, it’s difficult to monitor what is happening.

“We’ve contacted the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ask them to make representations to Russian authorities to end the reported human rights abuses immediately.

“We will continue to stay in touch with contacts on the ground in Russia, colleagues in the international LGBT movement (including ILGA-Europe) and other human rights organisations to monitor the situation, and offer any support we can.”

Stonewall are also supporting Amnesty International’s campaign. Find more information here.

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