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Detention, harassment and torture of LGBTI people common in Chechnya, report says

Detention, harassment and torture of LGBTI people common in Chechnya, report says

Poster for 28 April rally protesting the gay purge in Chechnya torture

Authorities in Chechnya have routinely used torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings to persecute minority groups such as the LGBTI community, a new report has found.

The damning report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said that LGBTI people face persistent harassment and persecution by authorities in Chechnya, which is part of the Russian Federation.

Systemic persecution in Chechnya has also been directed towards minority ethnic groups, political activists, lawyers, and human rights workers.

The report called out the Russian government, saying that the Kremlin had done little to halt blatant human rights abuses.

The report found an ‘impression that Chechnya is treated like a special case, an area of exception, where the institutions of the Russian Federation are not effective and a special regime of impunity is tolerated for the sake of stability.’

Death threats and torture

The OSCE report said that criminal charges should be investigated outside of Chechnya, as the independence of the judiciary was questionable.

It highlighted the case of Maksim Lapunov, a young gay man who claimed to be one of the first victims of a ‘gay purge’ by Chechen authorities in March 2017, the New Yorker reports.

Lapunov later went public, alleging brutal details of his time in custody, including numerous death threats and torture. He claimed to have heard the screams of other gay men who had been detained by the authorities.

The report urged the Kremlin to open a criminal investigation into the allegations made by Lapunov.

Condemnation of the ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya

Chechnya, which is located in the North Caucuses, has been ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov since 2006.

The Muslim-majority republic has seen numerous human rights abuses under Kadyrov’s tenure. Kadyrov is known to be a devout follower of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Last year, Kadyrov initiated an anti-LGBTI purge in Chechnya, with rhetoric describing the LGBTI community as ‘devils’ and ‘not people’.

During this time, 120 LGBTI Chechens have fled the country and sought asylum from persecution in Eurpoe or Canada.

The report also found evidence of the suppression of human rights advocacy in Chechnya. Kadyrov had pledged to ban such work as they were ‘preventing our people from living in peace’.

The report also detailed the case of Oyub Titiev, the head of the Memorial Human Rights Organisation in Chechnya, who is being prosecuted on narcotics charges.

Supporters of Titiev say the charges have been fabricated by the authorities as a means to punish the activist for his attempts to monitor human rights violations in Chechnya.