Europe

Chechnya denies imprisoning, torturing gays, claiming they don't exist there

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in February 2016.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in February 2016.  (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev, File)

Gay men are allegedly being put into concentration camp-style prisons in Russia, it has been claimed.

Authorities have been accused of setting up several “secret” camps in Chechnya where men have been tortured or killed because of their sexuality, Novoya Gazeta reported.

The Russian newspaper based their report on interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors who claim they were arrested and detained at one of the secret prison at a former military headquarters in the town of Argun.

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Former detainees told how they endured “electric shock torture and violent interrogation”, while others say they were held to ransom and used to extort their families.

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One prisoner who fled claimed he was blackmailed by Chechen police every month in order to survive before he was incarcerated.

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It comes after Novoya Gazeta reported Chechen police had rounded up more than 100 men suspected of being gay – killing three of them, last week.

Chechen’s President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a key ally of Vladimir Putin, accused of ordering the clampdown, denied the allegations claiming “it’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic”.

The Chechen government suggested there are no gay people in their country.

The Kremlin-backed Kadyrov is widely accused of extensive human rights violations. He has brought Islam to the fore of Chechnya’s daily life, including opening what is called Europe’s biggest mosque.

Human rights groups have accused security forces controlled by Kadyrov of resorting to disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial executions, and the collective punishment of suspects’ extended families in their fight with Islamist insurgents.

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch said: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.

“Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.

 “Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”

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