In April, Russia’s Republic of Chechnya rocketed to global headlines when the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta revealed that local authorities had carried out a brutal crackdown against gay men. Over 100 men were detained, many were brutally tortured in secret prisons, and at least three were killed.
Now, a new report suggests that Chechnya's police are using another tactic against gays: declaring them members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization.
Local Chechen police have added several gay men to a wanted list of IS supporters, likely in a bid to prevent them from being evacuated from Russia, a rights organization employee told the Kavkaz.Realii news site.
To do this, the Chechen security forces visit a target’s family at home and demand that they write a declaration that their child left for Syria, Kavkaz.Realii reported, citing a source in another rights organization.
For Chechen security forces, “it’s easier to simply say that a person was recruited [by IS] and went to Syria,” the source said. “Most likely, it’s aimed at ensuring that people who don’t want to live in these [dangerous] conditions do not leave.”
When the initial reports of Chechnya’s homophobic repressions emerged, the Russian LGBT Network, an advocacy organization, started working to evacuate gay men from Chechnya. As of last month, more than 50 individuals had been evacuated from the region, and twelve had left Russia.
/By Matthew Kupfer