A new wave of violent persecution has begun against men perceived to be gay in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, according to several men who were interviewed by the group Human Rights Watch. At least 23 men were detained between December and April, according to the Russia LGBT Network.
HRW reports: ‘Human Rights Watch interviewed four men who were detained for between three and 20 days, between December 2018 and February 2019, at the Grozny Internal Affairs Department compound. Police officials there kicked them with booted feet, beat them sticks and polypropylene pipes, and tortured three of the four with electric shocks. One was raped with a stick. The men’s accounts are consistent with a crime report filed on January 29 with Russia’s chief investigative agency by the Russian LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Network, a prominent LGBT rights group, which stated that in December and January, police in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, rounded up and abused 14 men. The report suggested that the true scope of detentions was broader.’
The men told Human Rights Watch that police took their cell phones and then ordered them under torture to identify other gay men, sometimes with photographs. One man told the group that police outed him to his family and then urged them to kill him. They also demanded cash ransom for their releases.
Interviewees offered matching descriptions of their captors and the facilities in which they were tortured, said they were denied food and water and forced to shave facial hair and the heads of other inmates.
HRW adds: “Police officers also humiliated them by probing into the details of their lives, using homophobic slurs, exposing them as gay to other inmates, and forcing them to undress. Police also forced several of the presumed gay inmates to clean the toilet and wash floors and doors along a corridor, making it clear to them and the other inmates that the gay detainees were given ‘women’s work’ as a form of humiliation. Two of the interviewees said they were held mostly in a large cell with some 40 other inmates on the fourth floor of a building on the police department compound. During their time in confinement, they encountered five other inmates detained and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment because of their presumed sexual orientation.”
Chechen authorities have denied the new wave of persecution and Russian authorities have not commented.