A mainstream Russian publication has alleged that nearly 100 men have been rounded up by police in Chechnya as a way to rid the city of its gay population.
The shocking anti-LGBTQ claim, first made on Saturday by the Novaya Gazeta, a local newspaper in the European territory, before being transcribed by American outlets, including the New York Times and Towerload one day later, notes the sudden snatching of several dozen men between the ages of 16 and 50 from the Chechen Republic as being part of a large-scale manhunt against those who are suspected of having a “non-traditional sexual orientation.”
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Additionally, “an analyst of the region with her own sources confirmed that more than 100 gay men had been detained,” the Times further detailed, “[with] the [Russian] newspaper [offering the] names of three [supposed] murder victims, and many others who had [reportedly] died in extrajudicial killings.”
According to writers of the Gazeta, the police push was initially promoted by law enforcement officials in the country as being a “prophylactic sweep” of certain undesirables, with cops additionally being given the go-ahead to permanently silence any individual who was brave enough to fight back.
“It began,” the Times goes on to relay, “after a Moscow-based gay rights group, GayRussia.ru, applied for permits to stage gay pride parades in four cities in Russia’s predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region,” including Chechnya.
The members of GayRussia.ru were said to have purposely avoided most of the more Muslim-heavy regions for the sake of maintaining peace, the report later expresses, but still were met with heavy opposition due to the country’s well-known anti-gay stance.
“[Even in more lenient] Muslim regions,” the Times post continues, “[Russian president Vladamir Putin] has empowered local leaders to press agendas of traditional Muslim values, to co-opt an Islamist underground [mindset],” so much so, that even filling out the paperwork to have the LGBT Pride Parade was taken as an offense worthy of death.
“In Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders,” Novaya Gazeta journalists confirmed.
“Of course, none of these people in any way demonstrated their sexual orientation publicly, [but] in the Caucasus,” they continued, the idea of inquiring a request to hold the LGBT-themed gathering was “equal to a death sentence.”
Adding fuel to the rumors of the disappearances are the self-motivated mass exodus of gay men in and around Chechnya who fear that they may be prosecuted beneath the controversial maneuver, as well as a statement given by a young social media user, 16, who declared that he had been held and physically ambushed inside of a city-located detention center, due to being homosexual.
“[I’m] all beaten [up],” he reportedly posted, “[and am] just a sack with bones.”
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In a statement given to Interfax, a spokesman for Ramzan Kadyrov, the current head of the Chechen Republic, denied the existence of such acts by stating that no gay men are currently reside in Chechnya.
“[The Novaya Gazeta report is nothing but] absolute lies and disinformation,” Alvi Karimoc remarked.
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic. If such people existed in Chechnya,” he went on to say, “law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
International Crisis Group project organizer Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, on the other hand, countered that the numbers prove otherwise.
“[There are] numerous [victims involved],” Ms. Sokiryanskaya states of the missing gay men from Chechnya, before adding, “it came from [way] too many sources not to be true.”
[Featured Image by Oleg Nikishin/Stringer/Getty Images]