Gay men in Chechnya are being imprisoned and tortured at six separate prisons, according to new reports.
Novaya Gazeta, the Russian newspaper that first uncovered the existence of the camps, wrote that they are “aware of six secret prisons, illegally (without due process) containing hundreds of detained citizens, including those suspected of homosexual orientation.”
Horrifying accounts of brutality and killings have been emerging from the Russian republic over the last three weeks, after Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 gay and bisexual men aged 16-50 had been detained by authorities over the last few months.
At least three men are known to have been killed, though the paper estimates the real figure to be higher, with witnesses and survivors reporting that detainees have been imprisoned together in large groups or ‘camps’, where they have been beaten and tortured – sometimes to death – by officials.
It has been reported that Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to “eliminate” the region’s gay population by the end of next month.
The UK’s Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, revealed last week that the British government had been made aware of the horrifying threat while taking questions in parliament this week.
“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” Duncan said.
“He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community. Sources have said that he wants the [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”
Last week CNN conducted interviews with various men who had been detained in these prison camps. Each of them detailed the abuse that was inflicted on them.
One man, referred to as ‘Ahmed’ said: “My car got stopped at a Chechen police checkpoint, and they asked me for my documents. They looked at them then said ‘We are taking you.'”
Another man detailed the abuse he suffered: “They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me.
He revealed that one of the methods used to torture the men is electrocution. “They tired wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me,” he said. “They’ve got special equipment which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.
“If my family finds out that I’m gay then no authorities, no troops are needed. They will kill me themselves.”
ABC News reported that a prominent spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, has denied evidence of systematic detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya, saying: “We do not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.”
United Nations human rights experts have called on Russian government to intervene, while demonstrations of solidarity with Chechnya’s LGBT+ community have been held around the world, including outside the Russian embassy in London.
Meanwhile, an Amnesty International petition calling on Russian’s prosecutor general, Aleksandr Ivanovich Bastrykin, to launch an urgent investigation into current events in Chechnya had reached over 164,000 signatures by Tuesday morning (April 25).