New details emerge about what one source calls an anti-LGBTQ ‘genocide’ LGBTQ community reports dozens imprisoned and up to 20 killed in Chechnya within past month

On Friday, January 11, Novaya Gazeta reported that persecution of individuals thought to be LGBTQ has drastically increased since late December in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Since then, Meduza has received additional information from the Russian LGBT Network, online groups for LGBTQ residents of the Caucasus, and a young man who has demonstrated close ties with the LGBTQ community in the North Caucasus. This report describes what makes this moment different from the attacks on LGBTQ people that have been ongoing for years both in Chechnya and in Russia more broadly.

Meduza has received information from the Russian LGBT Network as well as named and anonymous sources within the Russian LGBTQ community describing escalating efforts among Chechen police to hunt down, illegally arrest, and torture Chechens who are suspected of having LGBTQ identities. While advocates have reported similar systems of persecution for two years, a sharp increase in illegal arrests allegedly began less than one month ago, in late December 2018.

Aleksandr Mironov is a young man who says he fled North Ossetia, another region in the North Caucasus, after experiencing persecution because he is gay. He asked that his surname be changed to protect the safety of his relatives but said he provided his real first name, adding, “everything I had to lose, I have already lost.” Mironov currently lives in France but has maintained contact with a number of Chechen friends. He described living in Moscow for a period of time with a group of gay men who had also escaped Chechnya. He told Meduza that all of the information he provided came directly from people who had witnessed the current crisis in Chechnya firsthand. Mironov has provided Meduza with images that verify his location and some of his identifying information. Efforts to verify his story while protecting his safety are ongoing, and Mironov has been put in contact with representatives of the Russian LGBT Network.

Mironov’s sources told him that within the past month, Chechen police have illegally arrested approximately 40 people, including both men and women, based on suspicions about their sexual orientation. The LGBT Network, which for almost two years has led the evacuation effort to move targeted individuals living in Russia’s North Caucasus to safety, confirmed this number in a January 14 press release. However, while the LGBT Network received word of at least two people who died in the course of being tortured, Mironov said he puts the number of those killed at 10 to 20, saying that one of his friends personally saw more than two bodies being carried away from the location where he was held. A source within the LGBT Network wrote to Meduza, “I would not be surprised if Aleksandr is correct.” Mironov told Meduza that the present crisis is “a genocide” and that he chose to speak out because his friends and his community are finding themselves in an increasingly drastic situation. News about the crisis began to break on Friday, and the young man said he fears the first response among Chechen authorities will be to increase the rate of arrests and killings.

The Russian LGBT Network reported that the latest wave of illegal arrests appears to have begun when the administrator of an LGBTQ group on the social media site VKontakte was captured in December. Igor Kochetkov, the LGBT Network’s program director, wrote in a press release that “it is the staff of [Chechen] security agencies that is carrying out these arrests, and the victims are being held illegally in [the town of] Argun. The local police are doing everything possible to prevent them from leaving the republic or receiving legal protection as a result. Police are confiscating their identifying documents, threatening to charge them and their relatives with fabricated crimes, and forcing them to sign forms that are otherwise entirely blank.”

Mironov confirmed that victims are being tortured in Argun. It has been reported for more than a year that a former police building there was refitted to house secret torture chambers for men and women suspected of being LGBTQ. Mironov and other sources also said that finding concrete evidence on individual cases is extremely difficult because police confiscate cell phones and any other means of communication a victim may have. Victims can typically resume contact with the outside world only if they are released from custody.

When asked to describe what makes the present wave of attacks different from ongoing persecution, Mironov said the recent escalation has made him call the events in Chechnya a “genocide.” He explained, “This is a genocide based on religion. In fact, religion is only a smokescreen here. They are hiding behind Islam and Sharia law to stir up chaos illegally.” He added that “according to Sharia law, a person who has blood on his hands” should be the first person to be blamed. Mironov believes that “if this is left the way it is, then there will be even more victims.”

As Meduza reported on Friday, news of increasing persecution has emerged amid a call from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to investigate the wave of torture and killings that hit Chechnya in 2017. Like this purge, the previous spike in persecution was first reported by Novaya Gazeta. The author of the OSCE’s report, Dr. Wolfgang Benedek, recommended that the OSCE “open an inquiry into the actions of the government of the Chechen Republic toward LGBTI people” as well as a criminal case connected to the persecution of Maksim Lapunov, who had then been the only victim of the purges to publicly identify himself. The LGBT Network reported in their press release that Benedek was refused entry to the Russian Federation and that Russian authorities have still failed to conduct any meaningful investigation of the “systemic persecution” that began nearly two years ago.

Anonymous members of social media groups dedicated to the LGBTQ community in the Caucasus have confirmed and spread information about the recent increase in police attacks. Many of them are urging LGBTQ people in affected areas to delete any information from their devices that might reveal their sexual orientation, change their phone numbers, and destroy their devices if possible. The posts in question all urge potential victims to leave Chechnya and the North Caucasus as soon as possible. For its part, the Russian LGBT Network has vowed to continue relocating people who now find themselves in ever increasing danger. Since anti-LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya took on a new, systemic nature in 2017, the organization has relocated approximately 150 people, more than 130 of whom were able to leave Russia altogether.

Copyright www.meduza.io

Chechnya has reportedly launched a new ‘gay purge’

Chechnya has reportedly launched another ‘gay purge’, nearly two years after Russian newspaper Novaya Gazetta broke the story that up to 26 men had been killed in the country.
Yesterday, a warning aimed at the queer community appeared on social media, urging them all to flee the southern Russian region.

“We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible,” read the statement.

Although the message was vague, activists have come to the conclusion that LGBTQ people in Chechnya are once again being hunted by the authorities.

Igor Kochetkov, head of the LGBT Network, told The Independent that the group has “credible information of a new crackdown”, and will be providing a statement on the matter this Monday.

Last year, chilling reports of young gay men being murdered by their own family members came to fruition, as authorities told parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.

A 17-year-old male was reportedly murdered by his own uncle, after being pushed from his 9th floor balcony.

The Kremlin and Chechen government have both repeatedly denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region, but Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov has never kept it a secret that he is staunchly anti-LGBTQ.

Kadyrov publicly declared that he wanted all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26 2018, which marked the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.

He has maintained that all of the reports were false because in Chechnya, “we don’t have these kinds of people here.”

A 30-year-old man named Ruslan came forward to speak of his experience during the anti-gay purge, and revealed that he was outed to his family when his daughter-in-law discovered text messages he had sent his boyfriend on his phone.

His own family swiftly took away his passport and phone, and locked him in his room for a month.

“In Chechnya there was a big cleansing of gays. People working for Kadyrov (Chechnya’s leader) would target one (gay) person and through blackmail and beating would force him to surrender others,” Ruslan told BBC Russian.

“Some were caught, taken to the cellars, beaten violently, others were not found. Relatives sometimes did not even look for them, as they wanted to wash away the shame.”

Ruslan finally managed to escape his family home, borrowed a phone from a passerby to call his boyfriend, and made it to Moscow.

These accounts of the persecution LGBTQ people face in Chechnya comes as the Human Rights Campaign give repeated calls for Donald Trump to publicly condemned the Russian Republic’s actions.

They want the US president to “end his deafening silence” on ongoing crimes against people suspected of being LGBTQ in the country.

“These atrocities constitute crimes against humanity…None of the perpetrators have been brought to justice,” they put in a letter to the White House.

“Russia has refused to launch an investigation, and those who carried out these abuses face no repercussions for their actions.

“You must condemn these crimes against humanity and call on Russia to conduct an investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Copyright www.gaytimes.co.uk

Presentation of the documentary dance film #WAITINGFORCOLOR


In Bulgaria, on January 12, 2019, at 19:00 (26, 6-ti Septemvri str., Sofia, Bulgaria), there will be a presentation of the documentary dance film #WAITINGFORCOLOR on the ongoing pursuit of LGBTQ + in Chechnya, in Armenia and in Bulgaria, in partnership with the Single Step Bulgaria and Gallery 2.0 Foundation. If you are in Sofia, join Kosta Karakashyan and Radoslav Stoyanov from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, we will discuss the rights of LGBTQ + in Bulgaria, Chechnya and Western Europe, as well as the opportunity to donate to refugees from LGBTQ + seeking asylum in the Netherlands with LGBT World Beside.

OSCE Rapporteur’s Report under the Moscow Mechanism on alleged Human Rights Violations and Impunity in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation.

The views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed in this document are not given nor necessarily endorsed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) unless the OSCE is explicitly defined as the Author of this document.

Copyright www.osce.org

Girl must be strangled.

The project “Queer Women of the North Caucasus” with the support of the Fund. Heinrich Böll systematized the results of two years of work with lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in the North Caucasus. Radio Liberty has read the report, which should be published on the website of the Foundation. Heinrich Böll December 17th.

There has always been little information about LBT women in the Caucasus, only close attention the press and NGOs to persecute homosexuals in Chechnya prompted some of them to turn to human rights defenders. The project “Queer Women of the North Caucasus” is a few activists in different regions who hide their names for security reasons. They interviewed 21 women: sixteen from Chechnya, two from Dagestan, two from Ingushetia and one from North Ossetia. Respondents from 20 to 49 years; 17 of them identified themselves as lesbians, three said they were bisexual, one was a transgender woman. Eleven women left the region or even the country, three stayed at home and hide their orientation, the relatives of five learned about their orientation, so the girls are still in a situation of violence. With one such girl, the connection was lost after the interview, like other studies on queer women, the report demonstrates a disastrous situation with the rights of women in general, including family violence. According to the respondents, violence in Caucasian families is widespread, but statistics in this area are fragmentary, and the victims almost never turn to law enforcement agencies, who are sympathetic to the violation of their rights. “In the Chechen Republic, 11% of the respondents (women) indicated that they were sometimes beaten, 28% from time to time received slaps or pushes,” the 2015 study “Life and situation of women in the North Caucasus” says. At the same time, a 2011 study conducted by Rosstat together with the Ministry of Health in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund showed that in Russia as a whole, 20% of women were subjected to physical violence. 8% of women in the Caucasus said that they were raped or forced to have sex, on average in Russia, 4% said they had sex against their will with a current or former partner. 27% of the Chechens interviewed admitted that they had married under the force of their parents, in the oldest age group (61+) there were more than 40% of them.

Absolutely all LBT women who took part in the study said that they had gone through beatings and humiliation that begin after childhood. “Relatives on the father’s side often said that the girl should be strangled at birth”; “The father beat his children badly. One of the half-sisters said that the father threw them against the wall”; “The father often beat the mother. The father knocked out all the front teeth of the mother,” said residents of Chechnya.
One woman told about the actions of a sexual nature on the part of her uncle, who threatened her that in case of publicity, the punishment was waiting for her. And so it happened: when relatives learned about violence against a girl, she was accused of sexual promiscuity.
For many, violence ends in death, but the killers of sisters and daughters rarely sit in the dock. Another report of the Foundation for Legal Initiative about honor killings in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia states that out of 33 cases of such killings, only 14 reached the court. Eight out of 21 respondents from the Queer Women project said that one of their acquaintances had been killed by male relatives for behavior that “dishonors the family.”

The wedding of the head of the Chechnya ROVD in the Nozhai-Yurt district of Najud Guchigov and the 17-year-old resident of the village of Baitarka Louise Goilabieva.

All respondents spoke about total control by their relatives: regardless of age, they were forbidden to leave the house in the evening, it was often forbidden to communicate with boys and young people. “You cannot ride a taxi. You can take a bus, only where are adult women, if there are only men on the bus, you cannot go. I once secretly bought a car, studied in another region, bought it there. When my brother found out, she lied that the car was not mine Such disassemblies were. We managed to sell them quickly, “said a resident of Chechnya. Some girls were even forbidden to directly contact their father, social networks and mobile phones were checked daily, they were limited in their choice of clothing and social circle. “Mother said: – You are my property, I will do with you what I want, and you will do everything that I said.” Here it is. “Marry – you will do that what will my husband say to you You can have neither your opinion, nor your opinion; in general, nobody and nothing, you are our thing. All “;” They checked several times at the gynecologist if I was a virgin or not, “say respondents from Chechnya.
Nine of the girls interviewed were or are married, eight of them were married forcibly, and in seven cases they were forced into marriage after they learned about their homosexuality or began to suspect them of it. All the girls were abused, including sexual violence, by their husbands.
The North Caucasian “marriage” is usually located outside the Russian legal field, in the registry office go only in the case of the birth of a child. Women often do not ask consent, the mullah can issue a “marriage certificate”, which is kept by her husband. The document indicates the data of the husband and wife, the witnesses on the part of the groom and the data “wali” – the bride’s guardian (usually father or brother), as well as the amount of kalym, which usually varies from 10 thousand to 50 thousand rubles. According to the respondents, instead of the bride, the signature for her could be “wali”; in general, the evidence is similar to the contract of sale, one of the women, who had been married twice, said that she had never signed anywhere, did not give out marriage certificates to her . In this case, the three respondents at the time of the interview were not the only wives married.

“Marriage Certificate” from Mullah, Chechnya.

As a woman moves de facto from one “guardian” to another, the system of total control, physical and psychological violence remains the same, only sexual violence is added to it. “I was immediately taken to the village. For six months I lived in this village. I didn’t have my things, the conditions were difficult. My duties were to clean the house, cook food for the whole big family, clean the shoes of all family members every evening, clean every day in the yard. In fact, I was a servant, “- says a resident of Dagestan. “Once I went to the store and didn’t notice that my hair was strayed out from under the hijab. He shouted at me and started beating right on the street. So hard that I couldn’t stand for several days. And he was a boxing trainer. to argue, then immediately knock out, “- recalls the girl from Chechnya. ” My husband was terrible. He beat me almost every day. First, he beat me on the face with his hands, and then with a stick. He came up with the rules of behavior, and if I’m guilty, he beat me with a stick three times, “says another Chechen woman.

The Caucasus differs from other Russian regions in that it is almost impossible for a woman to get out of a situation of violence. If she succeeds in obtaining a divorce, she returns to her parental home, where she is exposed to even greater violence from her relatives, finding herself guilty of her position of “divorcing”. “After 4 years, she could not stand it and called my mother. She asked me to pick me up from my husband. Mother said that she sees no reason for divorce, since she” also did not love her husband. “So everyone lives,” says a woman from Dagestan. “It’s boring to sit at home and I played online games. Brother saw me talking to other players on the Internet. Immediately he started beating me, pressed me to the wall and began to choke me. I began to lose consciousness. Mother entered the room, pushed my brother away “- says the girl from Chechnya.

Sixteen out of 21 respondents were faced with the fact that their sexual orientation became known to their relatives. Usually this happens during the perusal of correspondence, because of gossip and rumors or banal revenge from friends who disseminate incriminating information. “My girlfriend sent my intimate photos to one of the groups on the social network. So the family learned”; “The bell rang. Brother spoke on the phone. It turned out that the correspondence with my friend found her mother. Well, she called mine”; “My brother became suspicious of this relationship and began to monitor me, check my phone several times a day. I tried to delete my messages as soon as I received them. But one day my brother was in the room when a message came from her, he I heard a sound and asked for a phone. I did not give it to him, because I knew that the message was from a girl, and was afraid. He began to hit me on the head and face. Of course, he picked the phone. Later, until the very marriage, I was under arrest and without a telephone, “say residents of Chechnya.

If relatives find out about a girl’s homo-, bi-, or transsexuality, this always leads to a wave of physical and psychological violence, which can also result in murder. However, the authors of the report do not have statistics on murders for orientation; the task was to study the living respondents, but at least two sudden deaths became known from different sources: in one case the official version was kidney disease, in the second – mysterious poisoning. “When they learned that I was a lesbian, they closed me in the room where the repair was going, with one blanket. They let me into the kitchen and the toilet when nobody was in the kitchen … I probably lived there for several months without everything, until my father bought there is a sofa “; “The brother sat down next to me on his knees, gave me a gun … He cried, I swear, he cried, and said:” I gave my word to Father not to kill you. I beg you, shoot yourself, just shoot yourself! “And I … I already walked like a zombie, I stretch that gun to him and say:” If you want, then kill yourself. I will not shoot myself. “And he is like this:” If you shoot yourself, it will all end, we will tell people that this somehow happened by chance “;” All men from the family are going. All the older men in the family (grandfathers, uncles, fathers, older brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . then kill yourself. I will not shoot myself. “And he is like this:” If you shoot yourself, it will all end, we will tell people that this somehow happened by chance “;” All men from the family are going. All the older men in the family (grandfathers, uncles, fathers, older brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . then kill yourself. I will not shoot myself. “And he is like this:” If you shoot yourself, it will all end, we will tell people that this somehow happened by chance “;” All men from the family are going. All the older men in the family (grandfathers, uncles, fathers, older brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . fathers, elder brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts) . fathers, elder brothers) and discuss what punishment to choose for a woman for her wrong behavior. If they find out that she is a lesbian, then most likely she will have two options: kill or marry forcibly, “say girls from Chechnya. Three respondents said that brothers or mothers inclined them to suicide (seven girls made suicide attempts).

Relatives do not always resort to extreme measures, some try to cure sexual orientation: for this, girls are taken to one of the Centers for Islamic Medicine or they invite the mullah to go home – to “expel the jinn”. Five of the women surveyed went through this procedure (about her in an interview at Radio Liberty also told Chechen lesbians in detail, who managed to leave Russia). However, the girls themselves often believe that their orientation is a consequence of obsession with a male genie who fell in love with them and disgusted with other men, therefore they agree to exorcism rituals, moreover, if the mullah confirms the diagnosis, the girl begins a course of treatment, and if her healthy, she in the eyes of the family becomes the usual libertine. “They laid me down and covered my whole body with such a green cloth. (…) They put on my headphones, started to hold hands and legs. (…) My head started to ache because of screams. A panic attack began. When these screams ( prayers. – Approx.) the headphones ran out, and I was already conscious, the mullah said that I needed something tougher, and asked my parents if they agreed. They, of course, agreed. Then the mullah took me by the hand, sat on my horse, crushed my hands with their feet. Took some tool. It seemed to me that it was a plastic stick, this stick was screwed into my ear. He pulled the skin out of my ears. I began to scream in pain. Mullah said: “It does not hurt you, it hurts your jinn”; “Some of them said that I need a ritual of“ cleansing demonic blood. ”To do this, my parents pierced the skin of my back with needles, made small cuts on my arms and legs. a bathroom with very salty water, and I was supposed to lie there, “say girls from Chechnya.

Exorcism of the genie.

One of the ways to avoid violence is fake marriage with a homosexual from the region. Six respondents arranged such marriages, however, let them be thorny for freedom. It’s dangerous to search for a candidate, because you can run into a “set-up” in social networks, native girls are always suspicious if she chooses a partner herself, marriage is impossible, if there are doubts about the future husband’s sexual orientation or reputation, besides Chechnya before marriage HIV test is obligatory, one of the respondents told how her choice did not pass such a test and the wedding was canceled. However, only half of the girls who marry gay or “understanding” friends, considered this adventure a success. In three cases, the husbands quickly forgot about the fictitious nature of marriage, and the girls again found themselves in situations of domestic and sexual violence. “I got pregnant. He screamed that does not want this child. To have an abortion in a marriage is impossible with us. So that there was no talk, they took me to some such room … they had an abortion. I was so bad. I don’t even know if these people have a medical education, “says a resident of Dagestan about her life with her gay husband.

One of the most serious offenses, but at the same time, sometimes the only way to salvation is to escape. Not many decide on it: women are economically dependent on the family, cannot get a passport without permission of the “guardian”, law enforcement agencies all over the country immediately pass to their searches, and they pass the refugees to their relatives, despite their requests not to do so. Upon the return of women, isolation, violence and, possibly, the death penalty are guaranteed (Radio Liberty knows a case when law enforcement agencies in a situation like this forced a man to kill his daughter, the father refused to commit a crime, the family had to leave the region).

With a successful escape, you need to be ready to refuse any contact with family members, because they continue to hunt women even abroad, one of the respondents was detained in Europe and, after several months of imprisonment, they were sent home. At the same time, as the study shows, only one respondent had previously developed an escape plan, the other 15 girls made a spontaneous decision when they considered that their lives were in danger. “I didn’t care. As if I wanted to be found and killed already. I packed up my bag and went hitchhiking. I got to Rostov (the city was changed). I slept in the forest. I climbed up a tree. I spent one night there,” a Chechen resident said.

According to the girls, law enforcement agencies at least in Chechnya expanded the audience of repression, adding lesbians and bisexual women to homosexuals and transgender people. No verified information on Radio Liberty’s “lesbian lists” was found, but three respondents from Chechnya were the victims of harassment by security forces. “The security officials took me away because she sheltered her friend. I could not refuse her. But I didn’t know that she was trying to escape. I began to ask and understood this. She had adult Chechen brothers. I said that one night she She can spend the night, but then she needs to come back. So they will quickly find her and she has nowhere to go. She left. But someone hacked her page where she wrote about me … The siloviki broke into my house and accused me of being a lesbian, that I stole their sister. Interrogated me. After that, morally tortured. But since I lit up, then constantly taken. When they were looking for some gay man, they took me away, beat me, but no trace remained. They pricked me with needles under the nails “;” They [the security forces] connected wires to my little fingers, put a basin of water in front of me, and said that they would shock me. They beat them with their fists and hands, spat in the face. Then they called my elder brother and mother, said: “Bring some men’s things to your sister.” They filmed everything on camera. 120 thousand rubles were extorted for this video. My paid. ” They beat them with their fists and hands, spat in the face. Then they called my elder brother and mother, said: “Bring some men’s things to your sister.” They filmed everything on camera. 120 thousand rubles were extorted for this video. My paid. ” They beat them with their fists and hands, spat in the face. Then they called my elder brother and mother, said: “Bring some men’s things to your sister.” They filmed everything on camera. 120 thousand rubles were extorted for this video. My paid. ”

As in the case of honor killings, there is no hope for a solution of the issue in the foreseeable future. The authors of the report are sure: “We need structural changes, anti-discrimination legislation, large-scale work with law enforcement agencies, which is impossible at the current level of institutional homophobia at the state level.” So far, human rights defenders and journalists can only save specific people.

Copyright www.svoboda.org