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10th April 2017, 17:39:31 UTC

Men believed to be gay are being abducted, tortured or even killed in Chechnya as part of a coordinated campaign with impunity

On 1 April, Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported that over a hundred men believed to be gay have been abducted in recent days, as part of a coordinated campaign. The men were reportedly tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals. Novaya Gazeta claimed to have verified information about at least three men who were killed by their captors, but its sources claim there have been many more killings.

There are reports some of the abducted men have since been returned to their families, possibly because their sexual orientation was not confirmed by their captors. However, they remain in grave danger because of local homophobic intolerance. Members of the Russian LGBTI Network confirmed this information, and created a hotline offering help to those looking for safety outside the region.

Reactions from Chechen officials has varied from denial (for instance, by Alvi Karimov, the Press Secretary of the Head of the Republic), to dismissing it as joke, to further thinly veiled threats. On 3 April the press secretary of the Russian Presidential Administration, Dimitry Peskov, announced that the Ministry of Interior were “checking information about the alleged persecution of men of non-traditional orientation”.

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