Russia investigates 'gay purge' in Chechnya
Russian officials are actively investigating claims of a purge of gay men in Chechnya, a process that could lead to a showdown between Moscow and the local Kremlin-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Dozens of men in the southern republic are reported to have been held in extrajudicial detention and tortured as part of a campaign against gay males in Chechnya that began several months ago.
Many have fled and are in hiding in other regions of Russia or have gone abroad.
. . . .
Most of the Chechen men involved are frightened about going public with their allegations because they fear not only for their own safety but that of their families.
Homosexuality is a huge taboo in Chechnya and many fear reprisals from their own families if they come out publicly.
They also fear their families will be made to suffer a “stain on their honour” for having a gay relative.
. . . .
So far, the response from Chechen authorities has been denial and threats.
Kadyrov, in an interview on 22 April, denied the allegations on the basis that there were “no gay men in Chechnya”.
He said: “These are not traditional things, psychiatrically abnormal things. We don’t understand them. Our people do not understand.”
Chechnya’s press and information minister, Jambulat Umarov, wrote on Instagram that Novaya Gazeta should “apologise to the Chechen people” for the “filthy provocation” of suggesting gay people existed in Chechnya.
He also suggested that people “who are more annoyed by your newspaper than we are” would “take care” of the journalists if they continued with their publications.