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Deeply worrying reports of an increase in the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya are beginning to emerge from Russia, with the Russian LGBT network suggesting that, since December, around 40 people have been detained, with at least two killed.

Spokesperson Igor Kochetkov stated “We know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women. At least two people died as a result of tortures. We also know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in Argun. 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, they threaten the victims with the criminal proceedings against them or their close ones, and they force them to sign empty forms.”

Despite evidence presented to the BBC, and seen by OutNews Global, the Chechen authorities have issued a blanket denial, telling RT (formerly Russia Today) that the latest report is a “complete lie” and “If even a single person were arrested, let alone 40, the entire Chechen public would have known. The claim that two were killed is even more absurd.”

The latest crackdown follows the detention of one of the administrators of “VKontakte”, a social network group chiefly for gay men.

Moscow has so far failed to acknowledge any abuses of human rights by the Chechen authorities, with a Kremlin spokesman confirming only that they would look over the latest report. This is despite several years’ worth of mounting evidence, including a December 2018 report from International Law Professor Wolfgang Benedek which cites severe mass severe violations of human rights, supported by evidence from survivors, witnesses and journalists.

In April 2017, Chechen abuse of its LGBT population was highlighted by the BBC in this harrowing video testimony, where an anonymous victim confirmed the use of torture, beatings and electric shocks



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Rob Harkavy

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