Two weeks ago, it was reported that a campaign in the Russia region of Chechnya had been instigated against gay men. It was alleged that scores of homosexuals, or those accused of being gay, were being rounded up and taken to secret detention centers where they were tortured, and some killed. Many detainees were forced to tell the Chechen authorities who else they knew that were gay in the region and these individuals were rounded up as well. The men who escaped described rooms in which anywhere from 15 to 30 prisoners were held without food, tortured with electric shocks and beaten — sometimes to death.
“We have received about 30 unique messages since April 2,” said Natalia Poplevskaia, the International Advocacy Officer and Monitoring Program Coordinator with the Russian LGBT Network. She said the messages are “from residents or former residents of Chechnya who have already been evacuated through their channels,” reported NBC News.
Former military barracks in the Chechen town of Argun were reported to be the site of these horrific accusations.
NBC reported on efforts to evacuate gays from the region, “People are very intimidated and not eager to talk. They are hesitant to even talk to us,” explained Poplevskaia, who said the organization was not connecting victims with reporters for interviews at this time. “The people who have been targeted by the campaign need some time to get back to normal life.”
The U.S. State Department weighted in on the issue, “We are increasingly concerned about the situation in the Republic of Chechnya, where there have been numerous credible reports indicating the detention of at least 100 men on the basis of their sexual orientation,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in the April 7 release.
“We are deeply disturbed by recent public statements by Chechen authorities that condone and incite violence against LGBTI persons,” Toner continued. “We urge Russian federal authorities to speak out against such practices, take steps to ensure the release of anyone wrongfully detained, conduct an independent and credible investigation into these reports, and hold any perpetrators responsible.”
For his part, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, simply suggested there are no homosexuals in Chechnya so the accusations are false. A spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the existence of LGBTQ people in Chechnya, telling the Interfax news agency, “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.”
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, had this to say about the matter, “We do not have such information and it is not a prerogative of the Kremlin. If any actions have been taken by the law enforcement agencies, which, in the opinion of some citizens, were taken with some irregularities, these citizens can use their rights, file relevant complaints, and go to court.”