|Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov|
The Washington Post reports that there is a full-on war on gays in Chechnya with over 100 men already
Ramzan Kadyrov is unlike any other provincial leader in Russia. He rules the republic of Chechnya with brute force and enjoys the indulgence of President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. Mr. Kadyrov keeps order in Chechnya, and Mr. Putin keeps out of his way. Now this deal has apparently led to barbaric treatment of gay men in the traditionally conservative Muslim society.
The crusading newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a startling article April 1 that reported Mr. Kadyrov’s armed thugs were detaining and executing gay men, with more than 100 men already seized, three of them known to be dead and many others possibly murdered in extrajudicial “honor” killings. A respected human rights expert, Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, told the New York Times and the Guardian that she had been receiving similar reports.
According to the Novaya Gazeta report, the sweep began when a Moscow gay rights group began filing requests for demonstrations in Russia’s provincial cities. Although the group had not focused on the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region, including Chechnya, the petitions galvanized a local drive to round up gay men. “In Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders,” Novaya Gazeta reported, saying the authorities searched for closeted gay men partly by posing as men seeking dates on social media websites. The newspaper also noted that none of the men detained had been open about their homosexuality in a society where it is still strictly taboo.
Mr. Kadyrov’s spokesman brushed off the report, saying no one in the republic is homosexual. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” Alvi Karimov said to Interfax. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
The Daily Mail offers further details, reporting that a concentration camp has been set up in Chechnya, and gay men are being tortured with electricity and being beaten, sometimes to death.
The beatings are apparently meant to coerce the names of other gay men from the prisoners.
Tanya Lokshina, from Human Rights Watch in Moscow, said: 'For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.
'These days, very few people in Chechnya dare speak to human rights monitors or journalists even anonymously because the climate of fear is overwhelming and people have been largely intimidated into silence.
'Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable.
'It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant. LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to "honour killings" by their own relatives for tarnishing family honour.'
An interesting twist in this story is the rumor that Kadyrov could be a closeted gay man.
LGBT activist Aaron Baldwin shared several pics of Kadyrov with various men on Facebook, including this one of Timati, or Mr. BlackStar as he calls himself. The rapper and producer is rumoured to be Kadyrov's lover.
This pic is reportedly from Timati's Instagram, deleted soon after. The rapper is purported to be in Kadyrov's bed on his private jet.