Russia: Chechen authorities resume homophobic crackdown

Amnesty International has received credible information that the authorities in Chechnya, a republic in the south of Russia, have unleashed a new wave of attacks on people believed to be gay or lesbian. At least two people are reported to have been tortured to death since December 2018.
The Russian LGBT Network has verified reports that the Chechen authorities have detained around 40 individuals in a government building in the city of Argun, where they have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. According to confidential sources, the authorities have destroyed some victims’ passports to prevent them from leaving the country.
“Many LGBTI people in Russia are still traumatized by the 2017 purge which saw dozens of gay men in Chechnya abducted and tortured and others killed. News that the authorities have resumed the crackdown is absolutely spine-chilling,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“We are horrified by reports that at least two people have died from torture-inflicted injuries. With lives in jeopardy, there is an urgent need for an international response to protect gay and lesbian people in Chechnya.”
On 21 December 2018 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe published a report on the 2017 crackdown, in which it documented Russia’s refusal to cooperate or respond to calls for an investigation. So far no genuine official investigation has taken place, and not a single person has been held to account for the atrocities committed.
“The fact that there has still not been any justice for the 2017 attacks shows that gay and lesbian people in Chechnya cannot rely on the Russian authorities to protect them. The lack of official investigation has emboldened the Chechen authorities to launch a new wave of persecution, safe in the knowledge that the Russian government will back up their denials and obfuscation,” said Marie Struthers.
“We are calling for the international community to take immediate action to protect gay and lesbian people in Chechnya, and to increase the pressure on the Russian authorities to properly investigate these horrendous crimes.”
The Russian LGBT Network first received reports about new abductions of gay and lesbian individuals in Chechnya and their secret detention in Argun on 28 December 2018, and has now been able to verify the information. The organization, which has helped dozens of gay and lesbian people escape Chechnya over the past two years, estimates that around 40 people are currently in detention.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English): + 613-744-7667 ext. 236;