New cleansing for the LGBT community is taking place in the Russian Chechen Republic. More than 40 people were detained and at least two were killed as a result of police violence. This is not the first such “purge” conducted by the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
The film “Waiting for Color” tells exactly this story – terror, love and unhappiness for the LGBT community in Chechnya. We talk with its director Kosta Karakashyan.
This is a story of repression for Russia, Chechnya, but it is also a story for those who are fighting for their rights and perhaps the simplest thing in the world is to love. Let’s start with the characters – who are you and are you waiting for the colors, as the name of the film “Waiting for the Color” suggests, or vice versa – are you trying to create it?
Of course, the focus is on the personal stories of the victims of this cleansing. Whatever the history of Russia and Chechnya, what people experience on a personal level is terrible.
As a member of the LGBTI community, I follow the struggle for equality not only in Europe, but throughout the world. In many countries, different sexual orientations are still criminalized and cause arrests, torture and death sentences. At the same time, more and more countries are making significant progress in legalizing same-sex marriage and providing protection against discrimination.
I lived in New York for four years, watching a diverse society that supports all nationalities, nationalities, gender, and sexual relationships. In the struggle for true equality, the patience and expectations of society to get used to the various and large campaigns and gestures that give a new tone are of great importance. In this film, I try to express my opinion to those LGBTI people who currently have the greatest need to be heard and saved.
What is being persecuted in Chechnya?
All the stories in the film are literally taken from a report published by the Russian LGBT network in 2017, which inspired me and pushed for the creation of the project. I remember very well the first time I read the stories, and I could not believe how violent this violence was.
It is important to clarify that in this report, 33 people testified anonymously to this day, only the victim of Chechnya, Maxim Lapunov, appeared with his name in the media. Even for those who fled to Germany and the Netherlands, it is still dangerous for them to disclose their names, because of their families in Chechnya and for their own safety.
Just two days ago, a new wave of organized violence was announced: 40 people were tortured and two died. European activist Remi Bonnie shared two testimonies of the victims and now is the time to re-mobilize and support them.
Our position in society should be to spread information about horrific events, because international tension in this situation works and slows down attacks, which gives organizations more opportunities for direct assistance.
And how can you fight in Chechnya and Russia or, like many Russian dissidents, do you see that you have to continue the battle from the other side … almost like exile?
Most of this must be done outside. In a government where the police persecute their citizens, there is no place to support local government. 16 OSCE countries launched a mechanism that calls on the Russian authorities to launch an investigation, but they refused.
It may seem like exile, but first and foremost is the provision of transportation, protection and asylum to refugees from Chechnya……
More and more parties are starting to rely on “traditional” values to remain in power. Putin is also the idol of this authoritarian movement – how do you explain this reaction in society?
This appeal to the most dissatisfied people in society – the poor, the elderly and uneducated. There is a direct connection between the authoritarian movement and simple promises, too simple, if you think about it. When society is unhappy, it seeks a quick exit and is ready to believe in great promises and a return to these traditional values of a golden past. We see it in the States with Trump, in Brazil with Bolsonaroo and Putin in Russia, but with Putin the power is even safer.
One such society becomes apathetic to hatred and discrimination and easily adapts to “others”, be they Roma, Muslims, gays, overloads or refugees. In such a society it is easy to point out something wrong with these groups, while the leader does not improve the quality of life of those who worship him.
When will the “color” finally come to Chechnya?
Unfortunately, I do not believe that there will be any changes. When I was planning a film, I very much doubted how optimistic the ending was, and we finally made very little hope, unlike the most cruel stories at the end of the film.
Color comes to every person when they are provided with security and protection. The color can come to those refugees who are starting a new life with the help of another great organization, LGBT World Beside, which provides them with the first need for a new life.
In Chechnya (and even in Bulgaria), color can appear only when all of us, as a society, demonstrate true continuity and sympathy, and not just hypocritical tolerance. This is one of the main activities of Single Step, a partner organization for placing the film on the Internet and here in Bulgaria, because they work directly with the younger generation and their parents to develop sympathy and understanding between the LGBTI community and the whole country.
Why should we watch a movie and how can everyone help?
We must watch the film to confront the unpleasant reality, which is the first step to change. I urge you to share the movie with your loved ones and online and follow the cause. (Watch the movie online). Each small wave of online support helps voice and make direct donations … … In addition, they help these Chechens to start a new life without harassment and violence – a life everyone deserves.