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Man who came out as gay in Chechnya forced to apologise to the country on TV

Movsar Eskarkhanov claims his family received death threats

2018-01-03

The first man to publicly come out as gay in Chechnya has claimed he was forced to apologise on national television after his family received death threats. 

Movsar Eskarkhanov came out last year and told Time magazine that he was one of the many LGBT people who were harassed and threatened during Chechnya's anti-gay purge. 

In the inteview, Eskarkhanov claimed the Chechen police told him that a devil lives inside him and told Time that he wanted to tell his story before he was killed. 

Several months after disappearing, Eskarkhanov reappeared on state television to apologise for "disgracing the public"

Eskarkhanov insisted his coming out was made under the influence of epilepsy medication. Speaking to Grozny TV, he said:

"They disgraced me before the Chechen people and the Chechen leader, I was framed. That's why I apologize to the residents of Chechnya, the leadership of Chechnya, the Chechens living in the North Caucasus and Europe.

He was labelled as mentally ill and blamed the Western media for sensationalizing his story. 

Last week Eskarkhanov, now living as a refugee in Germany, revealed he was forced to make the comments on state television after his family received death threats. 

Eskarkhanov told Kavkazsky Uzel: "They made it clear that if I continue to talk, there would be problems. They said that I must first think about my family." 

Other victims of Chechnya's anti-gay purge include Zelimkhan Bakaev, a Chechen singer who was believed to have been tortured to death for being gay. He later appeared in a YouTube video claiming he was fine and living in Germany, though fans and Human Rights activists questioned the video's authenticity. 

While there have been numerous reports surrounding the country's anti-gay purge, Chechnya's leader President Ramzan Kadyrov has stood firm in his claim that there are no gay people in the country. 

He has since been barred from entering the United States and his Facebook and Instagram accounts have been suspended