Two men who escaped torture from Chechnya’s “gay purge” have been detained by Russian police and returned to their captors, according to reports.
The Moscow Times reports: “The LGBT Network had helped the two men, Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev, flee from Chechnya and relocate to the city of Nizhny Novgorod some 400 kilometers east of Moscow in June 2020. According to their lawyer, Magamadov and Isayev had been arrested and tortured by Chechen special police in April 2020 for running an opposition Telegram channel and were later forced to record a video apology.”
Magamadov and Isayev went missing on Thursday, the paper adds: “At around 3 p.m., one of the men called the Russian LGBT Network’s emergency assistance coordinator, who heard screaming in the background. Magamadov and Isayev’s lawyer Alexander Nemov arrived at their apartment about 30 minutes later and described seeing traces of a scuffle. Upon submitting a missing persons claim to local police, Nemov found out that the two men had been handed over to Chechen police. They are now being taken to the Chechen town of Gudermes, the LGBT Network said.”
“Today, February 4, 2021, law enforcement officials detained Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev in their apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Around 3 pm, one of the men called David Isteev, Emergency Assistance Coordinator of the Russian LGBT Network, Isteev heard screaming in the background. Attorney-at-law, Alexander Nemov, arrived at the spot 30 minutes later; he found traces of debacle on site.
“According to the neighbors, a couple of hours earlier today, they noticed people in black uniforms in the building; the neighbors stated these could be the SWAT-team members (OMON in Russian). In the next couple of hours, not a single Regional Police Precinct could confirm that Magamadov and Isayev are in their disposition.
“After the attorney submitted a claim to the police concerning the two men’s abduction, he found out that Magamadov and Isayev were detained by the local law enforcement officers and passed to the Chechen police. At the moment, the Chechen law enforcement is driving Magomadov and Isayev to Gudermes, Chechen Republic.
“In June 2020, the Russian LGBT Network helped Magomadov and Isayev to flee the Chechen Republic to Nizhniy Novgorod. According to the statement collected by the attorney from Magomadov and Isayev, both of them were detained in April 2020 in the Special Patrol Regiment #6 named after Akhman-Khadji Kadyrov. Their detention in Spring was related to their participation as discussion moderators in the telegram-based opposition channel Osal Nakh 95. After being detained and tortured, Magamadov and Isayev were forced to record the notorious ‘apologies videos’ published online. Both young men seem to be visibly beaten and unwell.”
In July 2020, the U.S. State Department sanctioned Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, over human rights violations. Kadyrov is responsible for the systematic detention, torture, and murder of gay men that continues in Chechnya.
The State Department’s full statement:
“Today, the Department of State is publicly designating Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020. This designation is due to Kadyrov’s involvement in gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic. The Department has extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back more than a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings.
“We note that today’s action also applies to Mr. Kadyrov’s spouse, Medni Kadyrova, and his daughters Aishat Kadyrova and Karina (aka Khadizhat) Kadyrova. We will encourage likeminded countries to take similar measures.
“Along with many other likeminded nations, the United States has repeatedly raised concerns about reports of Mr. Kadyrov’s violations publicly and privately. We have already imposed economic sanctions on Mr. Kadyrov and several of his associates, using multiple authorities. In 2018, the United States and fifteen other nations took the extraordinary step of invoking the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism to create a fact-finding mission into horrific reports of abuses against LGBTI persons, human rights defenders, members of the independent media, and other citizens who ran afoul of Mr. Kadyrov. The Moscow Mechanism rapporteur found that “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions” had taken place and that “a climate of impunity” surrounded these events. We are concerned that Mr. Kadyrov is now using the excuse of the coronavirus pandemic to inflict further human rights abuses on the people of the Chechen Republic.