Ahead of Tuesday’s sentencing of Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev, two Chechen siblings who face up to 8.5 years in prison after being falsely accused of “aiding illegal armed groups”, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said:
“Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev must be immediately and unconditionally released. They should never have been charged in the first place. Belonging to the LGBTI community in Chechnya — or anywhere else for that matter — is not a crime. Nobody should be detained for their sexual orientation or gender identity or for criticizing the authorities. Their ordeal must end now.”
“These two siblings have faced a barrage of rights violations, including torture, at the hands of the Chechen authorities. Yet even amid such unrelenting repression, the federal Russian authorities stand by and do nothing. It is vital that Russia’s leaders finally start standing up for LGBTI rights. They can begin with the case of Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev.”
On 22 February, the Achkhoy-Martan District Court in Chechnya is expected to deliver its verdict in the case of Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev, who are 21 and 19 years old respectively. One of the siblings is gay, the other is in the process of gender transitioning.
The siblings had previously moderated ‘Osal Nakh 95’, a youth-led Telegram channel that contained posts critical of the Chechen authorities. In August 2019, Ismail Isaev, 16 years old at the time, was abducted, held incommunicado, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and made to “apologize” on camera for their alleged involvement with the channel.
On 4 February 2021, Salekh and Ismail were again abducted by Chechen police from a flat in Nizhny Novgorod that had been provided by LGBT Network, a Russian NGO.