Speculations have emerged that Chechnya, Russia has been detaining and torturing gay men. A local Chechen newspaper, the Novaya Gazeta, claims that head of Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov’s armed forces have been apprehending, torturing and executing gay men. “In Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders,” the newspaper claims.
Allegedly, Kadyrov, has recently launched an anti-gay campaign. While the Novaya Gazeta has accused the government of illegally imprisoning gay men in the area, a few local human rights activists have also made similar accusations.
Svetlana Zakharova from the Russian LGBT network told the Daily Mail, “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have no 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.”
However, not everyone agrees with these allegations. A spokesperson for Kadyrov, Alvi Karimov, says these claims by the Novaya Gazeta and human rights activitists are “absolute lies and disinformation.” The spokesperson goes on to say that, “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.” Karimov, who speaks on behalf of Chechnya’s leader, is literally dismissing these harrowing allegations by denying the existence of gay people in Chechnya. This kind of response is extremely disturbing.
According to The Independent, since these allegations of wrongful imprisonments have surfaced, the Russian LGBT network has organized a help hotline for those in the Chechen region. The network states that the hotline has gathered reports of misconduct and abuse in these makeshift prisons.
While reports of abuse, imprisonment and murders have yet to be verified, these allegations are horrifying. Such claims paint the picture of imprisonment camps that are disturbingly similar to the concentration camps of World War II. Although it is still unclear what is happening in Chechnya, we hope for the sake of these individuals that these allegations are false.