News of the ongoing situation has received widespread media attention, but unfortunately the situation has not yet been resolved. According to information obtained by Novaya Gazeta, at least 100 men remain detained in an illegal prison in Chechnya facing torture, inhumane and degrading treatment. The confidential 24-hour hotline for survivors and witnesses set up by the Russian LGBT Network on 29 March is receiving an increasing number of calls. Practical help is being provided to a number of victims who wish to leave Chechnya, and communication continues with a number of others.
New information about the conditions faced by those detained has since been collected and published by Novaya Gazeta (the independent newspaper which first broke the story on 1 April). (warning: article contains graphic images).
The personal stories of victims, some of which have escaped beyond the borders of Russia while others remain hidden in Chechnya, confirm:
- at least three deaths,
- the location of the illegal prison,
- and also confirm a consistent pattern of abuse faced by those detained.
Sources reported years of blackmail and beatings, but nothing compared to the concerted effort in hunting gay men that has taken place over the last month or so. During this period, (perceived) gay men were arrested and detained in illegal prisons, beaten, tortured and humiliated en masse, with male contacts from their phones suffering the same fate.
Meanwhile, Chechen officials continue to deny that gay people live in the region.
ILGA-Europe, the Russian LGBT Network and a number of other NGO partners have reached out to international institutions and national governments to advocate for the rights of Chechen gay men.
Despite an encouraging response from the international community, no investigations into the detention of (perceived) gay men in Chechnya have yet been started, either at a local or federal level.
At least 100 men remain in detention and a growing number of survivors are making use of the hotline set up by the Russian LGBT Network for practical help in escaping the region. As such, further public pressure is needed to ensure the situation is halted, those detained are released, and a proper investigation is launched.
The Russian LGBT Network can be called for free in Russia – 8 800 555 73 74.
Anyone outside Russia with information they would like to share on the current situation in Chechnya can confidentially contact ILGA-Europe Tel.: +32 2 609 54 10 or firstname.lastname@example.org