The U.S. State Department released a statement denouncing a reported new wave of anti-gay persecution in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya.
Said Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino in a statement: “We are deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya about renewed attacks against individuals perceived to be members of the LGBTI community. Civil society groups report that at least 40 individuals have been illegally detained since December, including two who reportedly died in custody after being tortured. We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, and launch an immediate investigation into these human rights abuses. We also urge the Russian Federation to ensure that the rights of all human rights defenders are fully respected in Chechnya, and those illegally detained, including Oyub Titiev, be immediately released.”
The statement follows a report from the Russian LGBT Network that since the end of December 2018, 40 people have reportedly been detained and two killed.
Said activist Igor Kochetkov, who leads the Russian LGBT network: “…we know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women. At least two people died as a result of tortures. We also know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in Argun. The local police makes every effort to prevent victims from leaving the region or applying to the courts in the future. They take away documents, they threaten the victims with the criminal proceedings against them or their close ones, and they force them to sign empty forms.”
Russian LGBT Network says the new wave of persecution began with the detention of the moderator of a group for gay men on Russia’s VKontakte social network at the end of December.
The Network adds: ‘The Russian authorities are unwilling not only to stop the persecution, but also to acknowledge the fact of illegal detentions, tortures and killings of LGBT people in Chechnya. The only official reaction of Kremlin to the Report prepared as a part of the OSCE Moscow mechanism and devoted to the severe violations of human rights in Chechnya was the statement made the President’s press secretary. Dmitry Peskov stated that they would look over the report. On December 20, 2018, the report devoted to the severe violations of human rights in Chechnya was published. The report was prepared by the Professor of International law Wolfgang Benedek within the OSCE Moscow Mechanism. Wolfgang Benedek conducted investigation and talked to the survivors, witnesses, human rights defenders and journalists. The report confirms the fact of mass severe violations of human rights in Chechnya.’