Showing posts with label Chechnya(see Chechen also). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chechnya(see Chechen also). Show all posts

January 12, 2019

Some Gay Men and Women Detained in Chechnya



MOSCOW — 
Several people have been recently detained in Russia's Chechnya region on suspicion of being gay, in a throwback to an earlier crackdown, activists said on Friday.
The reports come a year and a half after more than 100 gay men in Chechnya were arrested and subjected to torture, and some of them were killed, according to activists. Chechen authorities never admitted their role in the well-documented abuse, and federal authorities conducted a probe that did not produce any findings to back up the reports. 
 Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which broke the news of the crackdown in 2017, earlier on Friday reported renewed persecutions of gay people in Chechnya.
'I Want Justice': Victim of Chechnya's 'Hunt for Gays' Comes Forward 
Russian authorities kept denying that the killings and torture took place in the predominantly Muslim region where homosexuality is a taboo, even after one man came forward to talk about the time he spent in detention in Chechnya. 
 Maxim Lapunov said he was detained by unidentified people on a street in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and kept in custody for two weeks, where he was repeatedly beaten. He was let go after he signed a statement acknowledging he was gay and was told he would be killed if he talked about his time in detention.
Lapunov, who is not an ethnic Chechen and who hails from Siberia, was the first to file a complaint with Russian authorities over the wave of arrests of gay people.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last month called on Russia to investigate the reports, and Lapunov's case specifically.
AP

February 1, 2018

The Killer of Gay Men in Chechnya Comes Out of His Hole (video)



 Young Maximile singer and while a teenager a friend of Ramzan until it was found out he was gay. He dissapeared last seen with the killer of Chechnya, witnesses say he was killed. 
  





If You want to read the stories of brutality on killing and making gay men dissapear from the hole of the earth and it's owner Ramzon Kadyrov, you can search Chechnya and Chechen (also Gay Persecussion and Gay Killings). You wont find stories about tourism or anything else good at least not here. adamfoxie

January 3, 2018

The Year of The RussianPersecution of Gays Defying Modern History




 At the beginning of the Chechen gay pesecution this gay man had the gall to wrap himself in the rainbow flag in protest of their treatment and jailings which latter will become dissapearences and the rainbow flag which latter would become a possible death sentence crime



I can think of only two times it’s happened to me: I read a news story, or even a series of stories, and thought that it contained such extreme exaggerations that it had to be, essentially, false. I could enumerate my reasons, which were similar both times: the stories came from the Russian media, which is unreliable (even in the independent media outlets, reporting standards are often lax); the stories described awful, nearly unthinkable violence that came so neatly, so horrifyingly packaged, that it defied belief. I have known violence to be insidious, messy, trivialized by all participants, even as it happens, and these stories seemed to paint the exact opposite picture. These stories were preposterous—the word Hannah Arendt used in explaining why the world was so slow to understand the murderous threats posed by Hitler and Stalin.

The first story emerged in Russia about four years ago. Reports claimed that organized groups of young men were entrapping gay men, torturing them on camera, and posting the videos. I had a hard time believing that the effort was as well organized and widespread as the reports claimed. I have since learned that it was much more widespread than initially reported. Vigilante groups continue to entrap gay men in several Russian cities.

This spring, I didn’t believe a story that claimed that authorities—no longer vigilantes but actual police—in Chechnya were rounding up and torturing gay men and that some of these men had apparently been killed, while others were released to their relatives, who were instructed to kill the men themselves. I tried to latch onto the things that weren’t true. There were rumors of special concentration camps for gay men—human-rights researchers said that this didn’t check out. The original article in the muckraking Novaya Gazeta blamed the wave of arrests on a Moscow activist’s effort to organize a Pride march somewhere in the North Caucasus. This was a classic case of blaming the victims, and also false. Yet the rest of the story was true.

I flew to Moscow in late May to report the story of the men who had been able to flee Chechnya, and at that time I still couldn’t quite imagine the scale of the purges. I dropped my bag at a hotel and immediately headed to one of the safe houses. It had been difficult to get people to agree to talk with me, and I feared to give them time to change their minds. I spent the rest of the evening and half of the night talking to victims of the Chechen attacks and went back again the next day, and the day after that. In my head, though, the stories began to run together after a couple of hours. This happens when you listen to accounts of extreme violence: bare suffering is a monotonous experience. I developed short-hand notations for the executioners’ repertoire: electrocution, solitary-confinement cells, beatings, dunking in a vat of cold water, starvation.

Back in New York, I sorted through my notes on the men’s personal tragedies. There was the guy whose name had been given up by someone he seemed to have loved—and who was now presumed dead. There was the man who had left his lover behind. And there were several men who were married to women and had children they adored, who were struggling to figure out how to save their own lives and keep their families. There were several very young men who desperately missed their mothers but also knew that their families would probably kill them if they made contact.

They were all men. This was not because lesbians faced less danger in Chechnya but because they faced more. The men, at least, were free to leave the region on their own; women’s lives were controlled entirely by their fathers, brothers, and husbands. The activists who were helping the men had sheltered one young woman, but, by the time I got to Moscow, she had disappeared. I learned bits of her story from recordings of two conversations with her on someone’s phone. A few days later, she was dead, apparently killed by her family.

For security reasons, I couldn’t write about the rescue effort in much detail, but I bet that, if I had read a story about it, I wouldn’t have believed it. I could not have imagined that in Russia, where civil society has been trampled by the authorities with such force, queer people, who have been the government’s scapegoat of choice for several years, would be able to pull off an effort as ingenious and sustained as the one I observed. By the end of the year, the Russian L.G.B.T. Network and the Moscow L.G.B.T. Community Center had succeeded in getting a hundred and six people out of Chechnya and then out of Russia altogether. A handful of people with no special training and very little funding at the start managed to save a hundred and six people from certain death.

Toward the end of the summer, my contacts in Moscow told me that they were wrapping up their effort. They thought that they were about to send the last of their charges out of the country. But then people kept coming. 

So far, most of the men they have helped have gone to Canada. A few have landed in Latin America and in Europe. Many of them fear to go to countries with large Chechen diasporas, where they are likely to be targeted again in exile. None of the men appear to have made it to the United States. In general, the U.S. has been one of the half-dozen countries that are reasonably likely to grant asylum to people persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity—a small subset of the very small number of countries that welcome asylum seekers at all. (Other countries in the select group that grant asylum to L.G.B.T. people include South Africa, Belgium, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Sweden). For now, L.G.B.T. asylum seekers are still faring well in the U.S., but the application process takes years, and, with the Trump Administration reshaping this country’s immigration landscape, it’s hard to imagine this country welcoming many Muslim gay men, even when they are fleeing mortal danger.

October 6, 2017

Chechnya Retaliates Even Against Refugee Gay Men Away From That Country


Every gay men from Chechnya has been condemn to death wether they live in that country or in Europe


Campaigners protest for LGBT rights in Chechnya outside the Russian embassy in London, Britain, June 2, 2017.
Campaigners protest for LGBT rights in Chechnya outside the Russian embassy in London, Britain, June 2, 2017.
 
© 2017 Reuters




I recently met two Chechen gay men living as refugees in Western Europe in a bustling café. Both were in their early twenties, both looked around nervously. After we shared some pleasantries, Bula and Zelim cut to the chase.

“We were abducted, tortured in Grozny. The police extorted us for money because we are gay. They threatened to disclose our sexual orientation to our families. We paid them a lot to avoid that,” Bula and Zelim said. They had fled Grozny before this year’s purge against gay men. Bula, handed me his cell phone, showing me a picture of himself with a broken nose and a black eye.  “This happened in Moscow where I was hiding after I fled from Grozny. I was attacked by two Chechens who came to look for me. After that I escaped to Western Europe in 2016.”

Even then, the threats continued.  “A few days ago,” Bula said, “the police came to my parent’s house in Chechnya. They demanded that I come back. If not, they said they would return to take revenge and arrest my father. Arrest means torture or worse.”

I tried to grasp at something positive. “This is really terrible for your mother, but fortunately you are safe here.”

That proved naïve.

“We received text messages from people we met only once or twice in Grozny. They say they want to meet with us here in this country or elsewhere in Western Europe. But we suspect they want to trick us and abduct us to Chechnya.” Bula wiped the sweat from his palms with a napkin.

They had fled far from home. But it seemed Chechen authorities knew where to find them.

Bula’s eyes filled with tears. “We violated the honour and reputation of our country by asking for asylum based on our sexual orientation and now they want to punish us. If not the government, then our families are expected to kill us. This happened to some of our friends.”

We were quiet for some time, letting these words sink in. Then Zelim said: “I miss my mother.”

Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands all accepted gay refugees from Chechnya after pressure from human rights organizations. It’s a small success, but safety is relative. Although Bula and Zelim have escaped immediate danger, their problems are far from over.




September 26, 2017

Russian Gay Activists Urge EU to Investigate Chechen Atrocities on Gay Men






[From BRUSSELS]  Russian civil society activists are urging European Union member states to investigate crimes allegedly committed by Chechen authorities on gay men.
Igor Kochetkov, the founder and council member of the Russian LGBT Network, told the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on September 25 that his organization had helped 76 people to leave Chechnya.
"We should understand that those evacuated from Chechnya are still under threat not only in Chechnya but also outside. The Chechen authorities look for them directly or through their relatives and try to intimidate them," he told the committee.
Kochetkov also said that there were dozens of victims and witnesses of crimes that live in EU countries that are prepared to testify but that "they need guarantees of safety for themselves and their relatives."
"If the EU is really interested in investigating these crimes it is not just sufficient to just accept these refugees, you could launch you own investigations, you could give fully-fledged state support and protection of witnesses and victims of those crimes," he said.
The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has reported that more than 100 men were detained in Chechnya on the basis of the assumption that they were gay, and that at least three of them were killed. Others were reportedly tortured.
That reporting has been corroborated in part or in whole by rights groups and RFE/RL.
The Kremlin has downplayed the accusations, as has Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has asserted that homosexuality does not exist in Chechen society.



[Radio Free Europe]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

Agents of the Russian state have committed serious human rights abuses, including torture, since Russia occupied and seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a UN human rights report says.
The rights situation in Crimea "has significantly deteriorated under Russian occupation," the UN Human Rights Office says in the September 25 report, also citing disappearances, infringements of the Geneva Conventions, and violations of international law.
It says that "grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extra-judicial execution were documented." 
"There is an urgent need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and for providing the victims with redress," UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegal by dozens of countries, after Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by mass protests in Kyiv.
Many Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to the takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
The UN report says the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated when Moscow replaced Ukrainian laws with Russian laws in Crimea and imposed Russian citizenship on tens of thousands of residents.
The imposition of Russian citizenship had “a particularly harsh impact” on residents "who formally rejected citizenship; civil servants who had to renounced their Ukrainian citizenship or lose their jobs, and Crimean residents who did not meet the legal criteria" for Russian citizenship and "became foreigners," the UN report says. 
People without Russian citizenship who hold a residency permit in Crimea are now "deprived of important rights" and "do not enjoy equality before the law," it says. It said they "cannot own agricultural land, vote and be elected, register a religious community, apply to hold a public meeting, hold positions in the public administration, and reregister their private vehicle on the peninsula."
"Education in the Ukrainian language has almost disappeared from Crimea," the report says.
The report says hundreds of prisoners and pretrial detainees have been transferred to Russia, a practice it says is "strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law."
The report also says at least three detainees died after not receiving adequate medical care in custody.
In addition to seizing Crimea, Russia fomented separatism across much of Ukraine after Yanukovych's ouster and has supported separatists fighting against Kyiv's forces in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

September 4, 2017

Canada Quietly Helping Gay Chechen Men Leave Russia


Chechen Gay Killer leader Ramzan Kadyrov has previously suggested deporting gay men to Canada


The federal government of Canada has been secretly helping gay Chechen men leave Russia in an under-the-radar program.
The arrangement has been introduced under the guidance of Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign affairs minister.

Ms. Freeland "wanted to be able to save a few individuals," a government source said. "And we also wanted to allow Canada to serve as a demonstration for like-minded countries about what could be done."

As an LGBT rights lawyer, these are the strangest cases I've seen 
The asylum deal does not fall under the conventions of international law, but the North American country is carrying on despite this.

Over the last three months, 22 people, many of whom were living in Russian safe houses, are now safe in several Canadian cities, including Toronto.
Other people fleeing Russia's harsh anti-gay discrimination are expected to touch down in Canada over the next few weeks.

"Canada accepted a large number of people who are in great danger, and that is wonderful," said Tanya Lokshina, Russian program director for Human Rights Watch, in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

"The Canadian government deserves much praise for showing such openness and goodwill to provide sanctuary for these people. They did the right thing."

The government scheme has been operating covertly for fear of reprisals. But Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad, has spoken out, saying: "We needed to be discreet about the program for as long as possible to maintain their safety."
He added: "We now have to focus on settlement and integration of these individuals. And it's important that our community, who are concerned about them, know that they're here, that they're safe."

The deeply conservative republic of Chechnya launched a pogrom against gay men, reported Novaya Gazeta. There were allegations that LGBT people were being rounded up.
The Russian LGBT Network stated that 52 people had contacted them, saying they had been detained and tortured.

The Canadian government has taken a strong line against LGBT discrimination. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
He said: "In Canada and around the world, we must continue to fight against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, and to defend gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation rights.

"We deplore the recent, reprehensible reports of violations of the human rights of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. We call for the protection of all people in Chechnya whose sexual orientation makes them a target for persecution. Human rights have no borders."

Ironically, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov suggested deporting gay men to North America: "If there are any, take them to Canada ... Take them far from us so we don't have them at home.
"To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them."
The Independent

July 23, 2017

Brazilian Soccer Player Appears with Chechen Gay Killer Ramzan Kadyrov






I saw this picture in Portugal Gay (online paper) and immediately I got very nauseous. What would it take for an international ex-soccer player accustomed to seeing different types of people and as a black man with a face only his mama and the whom ever he pays for sex can love to give this killer and self-described hater to appear in the same picture??? I guess because he is an ex and otherwise could not get on the paper. As I write this column there are gays in Chechnya both being secretly tortured and kill in labor camps and physically and mentally abused hiding in the rest of that hellish place. There is plenty here on adamfoxie.blogspot.com  to go with what Kadyrov is doing to Gay men in Chechnya in case little R😖naldito needs to educate himself.

I'm sure Ronaldo has been the target of racism himself.  I imagine he is got no self-respect or may be he just only reads Chinese fortune cookies and is not aware of what goes on in the rest of the world besides maybe soccer and the menu at McD's. Like they say in the neighborhood where I grew up, What a sack of s***  no wonder they appear together. Can this Picture be photoshopped? Anything is possible and if so my apology will be forthcoming but it does not seem that way. 

"The Brazilian player, who played for Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Milan and the Brazilian national team, raved fans with the publication of the photo over the weekend. In the photo it seems all the people are happy with Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of the Republic of Chechnya, who has been accused of promoting the persecution not only of homosexuals but also of all people with sexual orientation or minority gender identity."



 (2 comments that appeared with the picture):

Ronaldinho Gaucho visited Grozny, Russia, to support the relaunch of the city's football club although it is unclear how much he will have received for the event.
Well received by all, here in Grozny. Special too, come from so far and receive so much affection !!! Thanks for everything FC Akhmat Grozny @ kadyrov_95 and @ cherhigov_95.

  Ronaldinho
Repudiation comments were not long in coming ...
It's disgusting that you let yourself be photographed with this killer. You have no shame and no respect for yourself. How much did they pay you to ruin your reputation?

Translated from Portuguese.



July 18, 2017

Artists Join MTV Educating People on The AntiGay Tortures in Chechnya



Rita Ora, RuPaul, Sam Bruno & More Join MTV in Educating People on the Horrific Anti-Gay Tortures in Chechnya




Courtesy of MTV
   by  

In Chechnya -- a federal subject of Russia -- gay and bisexual men have been hunted down, rounded up, and continue to be illegally detained in prison. Many have been tortured and at least three men have been murdered. In response to these horrors, MTV is encouraging people to keep their #EyesOnChechnya.

On July 12 MTV tweeted a video with artists and celebrities, including Tituss Burgess of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Jussie Smollett of Empire, educating its followers on the situation and putting pressure on the White House to do something about it.  

Since then, several celebrities including Lena Dunham, Rita OraRuPaulNick Cannon, Lzzy Hale and Sam Bruno have either retweeted or posted original call to actions.


"This is an important initiative because respect of the human life is crucial to me," said Bruno. "I'm always going to speak out against the injustice of humans whether it's the unjust killings here in America or of gay people in a far away land. This planet is for us and I'll speak up to anything that's against us."
The music network also launched Chechnya.mtv.com. The site contains resources on how to take action. It also directs readers to a petition with the Human Rights Campaign, which asks people to urge President Donald Trump to join other world leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in making it clear to Russia that lawless detentions, torture and murders of LGBTQ people are unacceptable. 

July 11, 2017

27 Gays Summarily Executed Without Trial in Chechnya This Year





There no reason to beleive in this 2017 pic that those gays are not still with us




In response to reports that at least 27 people were summarily executed without trial in Chechnya this January, Human Rights First today called on the U.S. government to take immediate action to bring a halt to gross human rights violations in the Russian republic. These disturbing allegations come amid new reports that Chechen officials have resumed a campaign of arresting and detaining gay and bisexual men. The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published the names of 27 people reportedly killed in the January massacre, including members of the LGBT community.
“If these reports are true, the U.S. government must act now.” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “The perpetrators of these atrocious acts must be brought to justice and we need to make sure that detained members of the Chechen LGBT community do not meet the same fate.”
The Russian LGBT Network corroborated the reports, noting that of the names published by Novaya Gazeta, some were members of the LGBT community.
In March, Novaya Gazeta reported on the mass detention of over two hundred men “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” Journalists reporting on the situation have been threatened by Chechen government officials. In addition to the deaths, survivors reported beatings and torture, as well as being forced to disclose the names of other gay men in the region. Recent reports indicate that new waves of arrests began at the end of June.
Human Rights First has called on the Trump Administration to take action to protect the Chechen LGBT community. Following a letter from Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke out against the violence and called for an investigation. Aside from Haley's public call, the administration has taken little action
In June, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 531, strongly condemning the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The resolution calls on the House of Representatives to condemn violence and persecution against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, calls on Chechen officials to cease abduction and torture of individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, and to hold accountable those involved in perpetuating the abuses. In late June, the Senate introduced a companion resolution that currently has 41 co-sponsors.
“The situation in Chechnya is urgent and we remain disappointed by the lack of action from President Trump and Secretary Tillerson,” added Gaylord. “We are pleased to see that Congress continuing to play an active role, hopefully this can send a signal that American leadership is not turning its back on the international LGBT community. However, in light of recent developments, the president and his team must act now to prevent further violence in Chechnya.”  
For more information or to speak with Gaylord, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org


June 30, 2017

Russian Jury Finds Chechen Men Guilty of Killing Opposition Leader Nemtsov



Zaur Dadayev. File photo REUTERS
Image captionZaur Dadayev is a former a member of an elite Chechen military unit

A Russian jury has found five ethnic Chechen men guilty of murdering leading opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. 
Zaur Dadayev shot the former deputy prime minister, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, in February 2015 near the Kremlin.
Four others acted as accomplices. The group was allegedly promised $250,000 (£192,000) to kill Nemtsov. They all denied the charges.
Nemtsov's relatives fear that whoever ordered the murder will never be found.
Russian authorities are still looking for another Chechen said to be behind the killing, Ruslan Mukhudinov. He believed to have fled abroad.
But lawyers for Nemtsov's family have said the investigators have exaggerated Mr. Mukhudinov's role and "the masterminds are high-ranking people".

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov pictured in 2009 AFP
Image captionBoris Nemtsov was one of President Putin's fiercest critics

The jury in Moscow convicted the five men after more than eight months of hearings.
Zaur Dadayev is a former member of an elite military unit. He was under the command of pro-Moscow's Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's Chechen Republic in the North Caucasus.
The other four defendants are brothers Anzor Gubashev and Shadid Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov.
A sixth man, Beslan Shabanov, died after he was detained in Chechnya.
Nemtsov served as first deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, and later became a vocal critic of President Putin.
The 55-year-old was shot dead on 27 February 2015 on his way back from an interview with a liberal radio station, in which he had called on listeners to join a rally.
At the time, Nemtsov was working on a report examining Russia's alleged role in the conflict in Ukraine. 
President Putin called the murder "vile and cynical" and vowed to hold those responsible to account.
Russia has seen several killings of high-profile politicians and journalists in recent years.
But the country has a long history of prosecuting alleged hit-men and failing to follow the chain of command to discover who ordered the murder, correspondents say.

Murder that Shocked Russia - by BBC's Sarah Rainsford at Moscow's courtroom

After about 12 hours of debate, the jury returned with a clear verdict - they found all five men guilty of murdering Boris Nemtsov, and by a clear majority.
REUTERS

The five defendants in a glass cage in Moscow's courtImage copyright

Image captionThe five defendants in a glass cage in Moscow's co

In a glass cage, the men listened in silence - with the occasional smile - as the decision was read out. The wife of one of the defendants broke into tears.
This was the murder that shocked Russia, a prominent critic of President Putin shot in the back right besides the walls of the Kremlin.
Once a political hi-flier, Nemtsov had been sidelined under Vladimir Putin. But he remained a loud voice of protest in Russia.
Nemtsov's family are sure that's why he was killed. 
But this trial focused only on the contract killers, without asking who hired them and why.


June 27, 2017

The Gay Men Who Escaped Chechnya





 Gay men in Chechnya were rounded off like livestock at the farm




In late February or early March, Ali was in his apartment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, when he got a phone call from a local police officer. “Get dressed, we have to take you in,” the man said. Ali took the sim card out of his cell phone, inserted it into a spare, blank phone, and hid his regular handset. By the time he was done, two police officers were knocking on the door. They put him in a car and drove to a nearby street, where two cars were waiting. The men put him in the back seat of one of the vehicles and got in with him.

“They pushed my head down so I wouldn’t see where we were going,” Ali, who is around thirty years old, told me. Soon, the car pulled up to an unmarked building. Ali saw two men he knew standing in front: “Their faces were all swollen from beatings. One of them said, ‘I told them everything.’ ” 

Ali was taken into a room. “Their boss is sitting there, sprawled out,” he continued. “He says, ‘You take it up the ass.’ I start denying everything.” The boss asked Ali about another man, whom Ali knew to be gay. That morning, the man had called Ali and suggested that they meet. “I knew that if they tortured him he’d break and give everyone up,” Ali told me. He said to the police that he knew the man only as a business client. “They started beating me. I kept saying that I don’t know anything, I’ve never even heard that there were gays here in Chechnya.”

The men took him down to a basement, where there was a large central room, with cells and small chambers around the perimeter. In one chamber, officers dunked prisoners’ heads in a vat of ice water; in another, they attached clothespin-like clips wired to a large battery to earlobes or extremities. The cells held men and women, who screamed as they were beaten with fists and batons.
The jailers tortured Ali and then brought him back upstairs to face the boss, then back to the basement for more torture, then back up. Each time Ali was interrogated, the boss demanded that he admit that he was homosexual and give him the names of other gay men. Each time, Ali denied everything. He knew that his phone would yield no information.
 
Ali lost track of time. Eventually, he was thrown into a cell and left there without food. Ali counted the days by the number of times he was allowed to perform his ablutions, then to drink the dirty water. He had seven drinks of water in all, which means that his captivity lasted more than a week.
Then Ali was released, and instructed not to turn off his phone; his jailers told him to expect a call.

It wasn’t the first time Ali had been attacked because of his sexuality. On three occasions, he had been entrapped, beaten, and robbed. Most of the gay Chechen men I have interviewed have stories of being entrapped—usually, by someone, they met online—and beaten, sometimes raped, and later often blackmailed.

What occurred in Chechnya in late winter went beyond beatings and blackmail. Ali appears to have been one of the first men to be swept up in the recent wave of detentions of gay men, carried out on orders from the top of the Chechen government. Those who were brought in and later released issued dire warnings on Russian social networks, in closed groups for Chechen gay men.

On April 1st, Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow newspaper with a long and distinguished track record of reporting from Chechnya, published an article claiming that it had been able to confirm more than a hundred arrests and three deaths resulting from this sweep. A report by Human Rights Watch, issued in late May, suggests that the raids began in the last week of February when a young man was arrested for using drugs. The police found photographs of men on his phone, along with social-media posts and messages that led them to identify him as gay.

Under torture, the man reportedly gave up the names of others, and the police began arresting them. Some media reports have claimed that Chechnya has confined gay men to “concentration camps,” but survivors’ testimony points to the existence of half a dozen detention facilities, where men are held for as long as a couple of weeks. In many cases, they are tortured. Some have been released, but others have been handed over to their relatives, who, according to survivors, are expected to kill gay family members. Following media reports of the purges, the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, declared that gay Chechens did not exist. Kremlin spokespeople have for the most part dismissed or laughed off questions about the violence. One spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested to a Finnish journalist that Kadyrov might organize a tour so that he could see for himself whether gays existed in Chechnya—an offer that sounded like a threat.

Chechnya is one of the eighty-five constituent regions of the Russian Federation and is ostensibly a secular state. In reality, it is a state within a state, run by Kadyrov, who is supported by Vladimir Putin. Kadyrov’s Chechnya is a more extreme version of Russia: a mafia state that uses religious rhetoric to enforce control over its citizens. Putin draws some of his authority from a close relationship to the Russian Orthodox Church; Kadyrov relies on a crude homespun version of Islam. Behavior including drinking (which is technically legal), drug use (which is not), women dressing immodestly, women smoking, contact of any sort between unmarried women and men, and open sexual expression is policed by law enforcement and by extended families.

Islam has served as Chechnya’s cultural glue for the past two decades. In the early nineteen-nineties, Chechens overwhelmingly supported a secular movement to secede from Russia. Moscow responded by waging war, which, between 1994 and 1996, decimated the region. The next wave of resistance coalesced around the mosques. When Russia launched its second offensive on Chechnya, in 1999, it faced men who identified as Islamic fighters. The pro-Moscow government that was finally installed in the aughts has harnessed much of the religious rhetoric to fortify its own power, while also persecuting anyone who identifies with strands of Islam that it deems radical. While many Chechens have only the most superficial familiarity with the Quran, their daily lives have been profoundly transformed: virtually all women now cover themselves, drinking has been severely restricted, and any hint of sexual expression has been banished.

L.G.B.T. people have been a prime target of Kremlin propaganda since 2012. That year, Putin returned to the Presidency for a third term, amid mass protests. In response, the Kremlin started queer-baiting the protesters. A succession of cities and, eventually, the federal parliament passed bills banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” Television presenters raged against imaginary homosexual recruiters of Russian children. (At the time, I was living in Russia and was active in protests against the regime and the anti-gay legislation.) Anti-gay violence became so pervasive that a café in central Moscow posted a notice saying that attacks would not be tolerated on the premises.

Two days before I interviewed Ali, a Russian businessman named German Sterligov opened his fifth gourmet food shop in Moscow; he also has four in St. Petersburg. All display a sign that says “No fags allowed.” Russian media have generally paid more attention to the stores’ high prices than to the signs at their entrances, but, on the occasion of the latest opening, a popular online magazine based in Moscow published a column calling the sign out as a poor attempt at a joke. The piece, signed by a well-known book critic, a straight married woman, closed with the words “Sorry to go all humorless on you, faggots.”

Vigilante groups that entrap gay men online and then humiliate and torture them on camera now operate with impunity in many cities. According to Immigration Equality, an American organization that helps L.G.B.T. asylum seekers, Russia has consistently been among the top five countries from which their clients flee; hundreds of people have sought asylum in the United States and in Western Europe.

After Ali was released, he went home to his wife, who was pregnant, and their two small children. On the way, he spent the money he had in his pocket—six hundred rubles, a little more than ten dollars—on a bag of candy. When he got home, his four-year-old daughter, whose usual greeting was “What have you brought me?,” didn’t even look at it. “We just spent two hours sitting there holding each other and crying,” Ali told me, and cried again. He told his wife that the police had detained him because they were looking for someone they thought he might know. The story was true, as far as it went.

Many of the men caught up in the sweep are married. There is no blueprint for being gay in Chechnya—most of the men I interviewed talked about times when they were convinced that there were no other gay men in their land—and the pressure to marry and have children is immense. Ali had always wanted children. After his first wife discovered that she was infertile, she left him. In his second marriage, he told me, “Allah gave me children.” Ali hoped that having a family “would make me a man.” He even thought that it had worked, because he had no trouble having sex with his wife. But when he tried to test his manliness by having affairs with other women he found himself unable to perform. “What do you think this means?” he asked me. “Why don’t I have a problem sleeping with my wife?”

Ali was careful to protect his family. “I only ever hooked up,” he told me. “I never had a relationship, even though I really wanted to. Because I knew that then there would be text messages and all that. There was this time when this man sat on a bench in front of my apartment building for days on end, waiting for me to come to him, and I so wanted to, but I knew I couldn’t.” Ali was protecting himself, too: “Many of my relatives are in law enforcement. My brother would have slaughtered me like a chicken.”

Ali didn’t consider leaving Chechnya. He and his family moved to a new apartment—the move was planned—and he returned to work. A few weeks later, a neighbor from their old apartment building called to say that law enforcement had come looking for Ali. Then he got a phone call from a gay friend, Nokhcho, who said that a mutual friend had been apprehended, and had given up Ali’s name and address. Nokhcho said, “You have to get out of here.”

Ali told his wife that he had to go to work. Then he drove two and a half hours to the neighboring region of Dagestan, where the chances of being detained by Chechen law enforcement are lower. “But I couldn’t pretend to be at work for days on end,” he said. He started coming home for quick meals before leaving again for Dagestan or North Ossetia, another nearby region. “Often, I didn’t spend the night at home,” he said. “And, when I was home, I was afraid to go out to the store, and afraid not to, because how was I going to explain it to my wife? It was clear that they’d get me.”

Nokhcho is twenty-eight, university-educated, and uncommonly well spoken. Like Ali, he has a dark trimmed beard and light eyes. Unlike Ali, who has a paunch and came to our meeting wearing track pants, Nokhcho has a gym body and wore a tight T-shirt and jeans that looked made for a dance floor in Chelsea.

Nokhcho has managed to maintain a relationship with a man. His partner of five years is a distant relative—though, in Chechnya, no relative is really distant. Families have vast networks across cities and countries; they take care of one another, fostering orphaned children, providing shelter to relations for virtually any reason, and forming businesses together. The system of mutual interdependence has insured the survival of the Chechen people in spite of the violence of the past. Family has always been central to Nokhcho’s life. “I love all those family dinners, all those weekends with the family,” he said. “Because my partner and I are related, we are treated like we are brothers, so during all the holidays and family occasions we get to be together.” They even shared the responsibility for an elderly grandmother—technically, she was the grandmother of only one of them, but in the family structure, she belonged to both.

But families also act as enforcers of ever more brutally interpreted traditional law. Family members carry out so-called honor killings of women who are perceived to have transgressed by having inappropriate contact with men, and they will murder men who have brought shame upon the clan. Nokhcho told me, “If my family found out . . . And I’m not just talking about men—I mean, there are women in my family who would kill me.”
Nokhcho was detained in late March. He managed to talk his way out of captivity, but he was sure that it was a temporary reprieve. As a precaution, he cut off contact with all his gay friends—his “girlfriends,” he calls them—except for Ali.

In early April, Nokhcho got a call from an old “girlfriend” who had moved to Western Europe. He told Nokhcho to call the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, a St. Petersburg-based organization whose small staff coördinates the work of several dozen even smaller groups around the country. The Network has set up a hotline and an evacuation plan for gay Chechens. Nokhcho said, “I’m, like, ‘Is this a setup?’ ”

Nokhcho called the number and was told that the group could help him leave Chechnya, shelter him in Moscow, and eventually get him out of Russia. Nokhcho called Ali. The two men had been close friends for years, long enough to continue confiding in each other even as their acquaintances disappeared, each presumably given up by someone he had once trusted. Nokhcho told Ali about the L.G.B.T. Network. Ali said, “This is a setup.” But they had no other options.

The two men sent the L.G.B.T. Network their personal information, and the group bought them airplane tickets to Moscow. Ali told his wife that he had a job in a large Russian city. Nokhcho’s partner stayed behind to continue caring for their grandmother.

In May, a group of Russian activists who work with the L.G.B.T. Network introduced me to a number of men who are in hiding in Moscow; eight of them sat down for interviews with me. As anti-gay violence has spread across the country, the Network has tried not only to document the situation but also to provide some limited services to victims. Staffers set up a hotline for reporting attacks and on two occasions organized what they call “evacuations,” in which they help people threatened by anti-gay violence to move to larger, and theoretically safer, cities in Russia. But they had little experience working with any of the predominantly Muslim republics of the North Caucasus, which the activists, like most Russians, perceive as a strange and separate world.

When activists heard about the purges in Chechnya, the Network set up an e-mail address and a phone number for Chechens to call. “These middle-of-the-night calls started pouring in,” the person who answers the calls told me. The staffer, who asked not to be identified, had never been to Chechnya and knew little about it before the nighttime calls began. The conversations went on for hours, “because people are trying to figure out if they can trust me.”

The Moscow operation is run by a small team, including two lesbians, Olga Baranova and Tatiana Vinnichenko. At the time I visited, they had helped thirty-five people leave Chechnya. Another ten had left independently and asked for help once they had done so. That number continued to grow after I left Moscow. There were also four people with whom the activists had lost contact after buying their tickets.

They didn’t have much of a plan for what they would do with the Chechens after they arrived because it was assumed that they would quickly leave Russia. They did not realize that, even under the best of circumstances, refugee visas to safe countries would take months to process. More than forty Chechens are now living in temporary housing arranged by Russian activists.

Baranova is a thirty-nine-year-old former advertising executive who went freelance six years ago when she had a baby. A year later, she decided that she wanted to spend time with other same-sex families with children. The Kremlin’s anti-gay campaign was getting under way, so Baranova started an L.G.B.T. community center in Moscow.

The center, which opened in late 2015, occupies three plain rooms along with a single hallway in a dilapidated office building in central Moscow. There are film screenings, support groups, and two choirs, one for transgender women learning to reach the higher registers and one for casual singers. Now the center also serves as the Moscow headquarters for the Chechen rescue-and-shelter operation. The team includes an administrative assistant, who dispenses aid money raised by people all over the world; a psychotherapist, who works with the escapees; a psychologist, who takes down detailed testimony that will, it is hoped, someday be used to prosecute those responsible for the violence; and a medical coördinator. The escapees’ medical needs are vast. Some require care for injuries sustained in captivity; one man arrived with a shattered jaw, which had to be wired shut. Others were unable to seek routine care in Chechnya, for fear of being outed. Baranova said that a number of the Chechens are infected with H.I.V. Most of them have learned their status only since arriving in Moscow.

Baranova has short brown hair and a round face. She uses a kick scooter and a motorized scooter to visit the Chechens, who live in rented apartments within roughly two miles of one another. She comes across as a no-nonsense lesbian den mother. She arrives, greets the men with hugs and kisses and a tender “Privet, moy khoroshiy”—roughly, “Hello, my darling”—and quickly proceeds to go through a long checklist. Are the men taking their meds? Are they following the safety and security protocols? The Chechen survivors fear that Kadyrov’s forces—Kadyrovtsy, as they call them—will track them down. Baranova strongly encourages the men to discard their old phones and use only sim cards and handsets issued to them in Moscow. She sets up V.P.N. Internet connections, to insure that their online communications are not traceable.

Once the team realized that they would be sheltering Chechen survivors indefinitely, they established a system that includes what they call “quarantine.” A new arrival from Chechnya has housed alone in an apartment. The staff assesses the man’s mental state, physical condition, and, especially, his trustworthiness, by checking his story against those of others. Sometimes they also try to determine whether the man has sexual connections to any others in their care—the most direct way of confirming that someone is gay. Still, no one uses his real name. The men are instructed to call one another and the activists by nicknames. (As an extra precaution, the names used to identify the men in this article are different from these nicknames.) Face-to-face contact is limited to no more than half a dozen people. When I talked to the men’s therapist, he complained that he has to work with the survivors individually, even though group therapy would be his preferred method for addressing their trauma.

Some of the safety measures are hard won. In May, Baranova was helping a lesbian who came to Moscow with her husband, a gay man. Marrying another gay person has long been a way for queers in Chechnya to create a life. But the relationship was strained, and once they left Chechnya they planned to separate. The woman was terrified that her family would pursue her, so Baranova arranged for her to leave Russia. A few hours before Baranova was scheduled to pick the woman up to go to the airport, she got a voice message from her. She still has it stored on her phone, and I got the impression that she had listened to it repeatedly. It began with ambient noise. “See, it sounds like she is on her way somewhere,” Baranova said.

“I’m going to try to get rid of this number,” the woman said. “But, if you get any calls from it, please don’t take them. Goodbye.”
Baranova went to the meeting place that she and the woman had arranged and waited for several hours. The woman never showed up. In mid-June, news came that the woman had died in Chechnya, apparently from kidney failure. Her friends assume that she was poisoned by her family.

Human-rights activists say that women have not been targeted in the purge. But, as one activist pointed out to me, this in itself is a measure of men’s freedom when compared with women’s. Women cannot simply decide to travel outside Chechnya, for work or for leisure. When women are targeted for their sexuality, usually they are unable to escape, even if help is available for them elsewhere.

Vinnichenko, the chair of the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, is forty-four. She has curly red hair and wears wire-rimmed glasses. Until a couple of years ago, she was an associate professor of Russian at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University, in the city of Arkhangelsk, where she also ran the local L.G.B.T. organization, Rakurs, or Viewpoint. In 2012, when the political crackdown began, Vinnichenko was dragged into court on charges of failing to register Rakurs as a “foreign agent.” She was also the subject of stories in the local media which alleged that the head of the university, a woman, was intimately involved with Vinnichenko and provided cover for “gay propaganda.” After a gay male colleague was fired, Vinnichenko quit and moved to Moscow to live with her longtime partner, a crane operator.

In an upbeat way, Vinnichenko told me about her heart breaking over and over again since she started working with the Chechen men, when she heard their stories, witnessed their tears, and cried her own—and also about experiencing intense shame. “The first guy I was supposed to help, we met in the street, and he comes wearing a hoodie, the hood pulled over his face so that all I can see is the beard,” she said. “It’s one of those beards—no mustache, but bushy around the chin.” Vinnichenko circled her own jaw with her hand. “And we get in the elevator, the doors close, I’m looking at his beard and thinking, It would only take a second for him to stab me to death, and no one would ever know. That’s how strong my own Islamophobia was. And, of course, he turned out to be the sweetest kid.”

“And every time Elmo laughs we drink.”

The embassies of Western countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, are among Russian L.G.B.T. organizations’ greatest sources of support, both rhetorical and financial. “We are always working with the embassies—they are constantly calling and inquiring about our work,” Vinnichenko told me. “So I was sure that when this happened, practically a genocide—well, it’s not a genocide precisely but a crime against humanity—we would get humanitarian visas right away.” The activists had only a vague awareness of the West’s crisis of empathy toward refugees, especially Muslim ones. Most embassy representatives said immediately that their countries would be unable to help.

 The New Yorker

The complete article appears in other versions of the July 3, 2017, issue, with the headline “Forbidden Lives” on the newyorker.com


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