Russian newspapers have confirmed that gay men are being targeted in Chechnya.
More than 100 gay men, between the ages of 16 to 50, have been arrested or killed by Chechen authorities, according to the New York Times:
While abuses by security services in the region, where Russia fought a two-decade war against Islamic insurgents, have long been a stain on President Vladimir V. Putin’s human rights record, gay people had not previously been targeted on a wide scale.
The men were detained “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” the newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported, citing Russian federal law enforcement officials, who blamed the local authorities.
By Saturday, the paper reported, and an analyst of the region with her own sources confirmed, that more than 100 gay men had been detained. The newspaper had the names of three murder victims, and suspected many others had died in extrajudicial killings.
“In Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders,” Novaya Gazeta reported.
According to the report, the authorities set to finding and arresting closeted gay men, partly by posing as men looking for dates on social networking sites.
“Of course, none of these people in any way demonstrated their sexual orientation publicly — in the Caucasus, this is equal to a death sentence,” the newspaper wrote of those detained in the sweep.
“I got numerous, numerous signals,” about the sweep of gay men, said Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya,, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, and an authority on the North Caucasus. “It came from too many sources not to be true.”