A Russian independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, published an article by Elena Milashina in early April involving the police of the Russian republic of Chechnya, which organized hundreds of arrests of LGBT people.
These people were then taken to camps and tortured to get information and in particular the location of their LGBT friends.
Since a lot of LGBT Chechens have removed their profiles on social networks to try to disappear from the radar. Those who had friends who were arrested fled.
NGO Human Rights Watch confirmed this information. In a statement, it said to have trusted sources, including sources on the ground who confirm the mass arrest of LGBT people across Chechnya.
"The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred," the organization wrote.
The police release some people after torturing them but they are still not safe as you can imagine. LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to “honor killings” by their own relatives.
In her article, the Russian journalist also mentioned the existence of a secret detention camp in the east. She evokes an old military building in Argun.
She has also reported that high-ranking officials of the Chechen government launched the arrests. For example, Magomed Daoudov, the president of the Chechen parliament and Aioub Kataev, the chief of police, are on the list.
The government for its part refuses to consider this information to be true. The spokesperson for Chechnya’s Interior Ministry said: "If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning."
President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, advised victims to file a complaint with the police. Yes, the same police which arrests LGBT people.
Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation. Amnesty International and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, urged the Russian authorities to take urgent measures. Many European countries demand that the safety of LGBT people be guaranteed.
If you are located in this area and you have ever received threats or are in danger and want to leave as soon as possible, the Russian LGBT Network has opened a special hotline to provide emergency support: 8 800 555 73 74 - the call is free all over Russia.
You can also contact them by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The organization says it is ready to evacuate people.
Photo by AFP