Russia’s only independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, has released a publication claiming gay men are being forcefully detained in concentration camps in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors state that Chechen police are using electric shock torture and violent interrogations to force the homosexuals to promise to leave the republic.
“They kept our phones switched on.” One detainee said. “Any man who calls or texts is a new target.” He also described being beaten with a plastic pipe, being forced to sit on bottles and having his hands electrocuted. “They always hit us below the waist — on the thighs, the buttocks, the loins. They said we were dogs who had no right to life.”
The Russian group LGBT Network has released a statement, “No national and/or religious traditions and norms can justify kidnapping or killing of a human being. Any references to “tradition” to justify kidnapping and killing are amoral and criminal.” The group also claimed to be ready to evacuate people.
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote, “Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings.” The expectation of the family was to perform an honour killing. She adds, “At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”
Last week, Chechen police had rounded up more than 100 men suspected of being gay – killing three of them – only for a representative of the president to claim, later on, “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.” After suggesting there are no gay people in the federal subject of Russia, he went on to add, “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
The president himself, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of extensive human rights violations, decided to hold his own version of The Hunger Games last year. Children, as young as eight, beat each other senseless in what he called a mixed martial arts “sport” for the entertainment of adults. After MMA champion Fyodor Yemelyanenko criticised the tournament, calling it “unacceptable”, his 16-year-old daughter was beaten up walking the streets of Moscow.