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Chechnya gay purge kills 2, tortures dozens, activists say

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Two gay men have been tortured to death in a horrific purge on LGBT people in Chechnya, a mostly-Muslim region in southern Russia, activists said.

About 40 men and women were detained in the latest crackdown on gay people, which began late last month, the Russian LGBT Network said in a Monday statement.

The two known victims, who were not named, died of torture in detention. There may be more people who have died.

Chechnya is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, a Kremlin-installed ruler widely described as a warlord. This photo shows Kadyrov (right) with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) at the Kremlin in Moscow.
Thomson Reuters

The ‘Instagram-addicted ruler’

The purge was carried out by Chechen law enforcement officers, who are preventing victims from leaving the region or taking their cases to court, the network’s program director Igor Kochetkov said.

Local police have taken away their documents, and threatened them and their family with criminal proceedings, Kochetkov added.

Chechnya is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, a Kremlin-installed ruler widely described in Western media as a warlord, and who regularly posted photos of himself cuddling cats on social media.

The New York Times described Kadyrov as “Instagram-addicted” in 2015.

Facebook took down his Instagram and Facebook accounts in December 2017, shortly after the US Treasury Department sanctioned him for human rights abuses.

Another Instagram account linked to Kadyrov resurfaced in November 2018, but Chechen officials claimed it was created by the warlord’s fans, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Instagram has since deleted that account as well.

Read more: Ramzan Kadyrov is unhappy with UFC fighter Zubaira Tukhugov because he slapped Conor McGregor instead of punching him

Kadyrov, here at the Kremlin in September 2014, regularly posted photos of his cat on Instagram before Facebook took down his account in 2017.
REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Reports of the latest purge come after allegations that Chechen authorities arrested more than 100 gay men and tortured them, leaving some of them dead. Chechen authorities have denied those accusations.

A gay man who fled Chechnya anonymously told the BBC in 2017 that he was beaten and subjected to electro-torture. He said his home country had been “exterminating gay men” until “there are none left in the republic.”

He said: “Chechens have no right to be gay. They have to be warriors, straight, sportsmen. Being gay is just not acceptable for them.”

Chechen police blocked the LGBT victims from leaving the region and threatened them and their families, activists said. Here, Soldiers of the Akhmad Kadyrov Special Forces Unit march at a military parade Grozny, Russia, in May 2015.
RIA Novosti/REUTERS

The LGBT community faces pressure in Russia as well. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last November that Russia discriminated against gay people by banning gay pride marches and protests.

Furthermore, Russia regarded homosexuality as a criminal offense until 1993, and classed it as a mental illness until 1999.

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