April 21, 2017 at 11:11 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Chechnya president again denies gay arrests

Ramzan Kadyrov, gay news, Washington Blade

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo by the Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation; courtesy www.kremlin.ru)

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on Wednesday once again denied reports that more than 100 gay men have been arrested in the semi-autonomous Russian republic.

Kadyrov told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting that Vesti, a Russian television station, broadcast that “even talking about this is uncomfortable.”

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, earlier this month reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 gay men since the end of February.

Men who have recently spoken to CNN and the BBC have said authorities beat them and tortured them with electric shocks while in custody. Novaya Gazeta has also reported that at least three of the men who were arrested later died.

Novaya Gazeta earlier this month said Chechen authorities have sent gay men to secret prisons that have been described as “concentration camps.” The Russian LGBT Network, a St. Petersburg-based advocacy group that has begun to evacuate gay men from Chechnya, confirmed these reports to the Washington Blade.

Grindr and All Out, a global LGBT advocacy group, are working with the Russian LGBT Network to assist them. A Novaya Gazeta reporter who broke the story has gone into hiding after receiving death threats.

“Such unconfirmed facts about the republic appear two-three times a year,” Kadyrov told Putin.

Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday once again said the Kremlin cannot confirm the reports from Chechnya.

“We are talking about some anonymous people, about phantom complaints,” he said, according to RT, a television station the Russian government owns.

Svetlana Zakharova of the Russian LGBT Network told the Blade on Thursday in an email that her organization has “already evacuated people” from Chechnya “who witnessed kidnappings, torture and killings.” She said the Russian LGBT Network is preparing to release a “full report about the situation in Chechnya.”

“It is just impossible to fake such a situation,” Zakharova told the Blade. “We will insist on a proper investigation.”

Trump, Tillerson remain silent on Chechnya

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim and semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus with a population of roughly 1.27 million people. It borders the country of Georgia, the semi-autonomous Russian republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia-Alania and Stavropol Krai in Russia proper.

Chechnya and other semi-autonomous Russian republics and regions have their own legislative bodies and law enforcement officials. Kadyrov, a leader in the Chechen independence movement who is now a close Putin ally, became president in 2007.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Monday said the U.S. remains “disturbed” by the arrests of gay Chechen men and urged authorities to investigate allegations of abuse and other human rights violations. Former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and others have also publicly condemned the arrests and urged Chechen and Russian authorities to investigate them.

Kadyrov earlier this month described the international criticism as “attempts” that “are being made to blacken our society, lifestyle, traditions and customs.” His spokesperson told a Russian government news agency it is “impossible to prosecute those who are not in the republic.”

“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return,” he added.

President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who met with Putin in Moscow on April 12 — have yet to publicly comment on the arrests and the secret prisons in which gay men are reportedly being held.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Why is this denial anymore credible than anything that comes out of Russia? They aren’t aiding Ukraine rebels, they didn’t tamper in US elections and there was no gas attack in Syria!

    Lies and denials are common for the Putin regime. That’s why Trump admires Putin so much!!!!!!!

    • Yet you criticize Trump for wanting to restrict Muslim entry into the U.S. ??

      • I criticize Trump’s inconsistent application of that policy which excludes countries like Saudi Arabia which murders gay men!

        • THAT’S a fair and reasonable criticism. But not your general campaign to bring as many Muslims as possible into the U.S. and criticizing Trump for his restrictions in general. How many Neighbors arsons and Pulse massacres do you want ?

          • Obviously selectively applying that policy isn’t going to prevent that and not condemning actions like those in Chechnya only emboldens others to commit similar actions!

          • But on that all U.S. Presidents (and candidates) deal favorably with homophobic Muslim countries (and “countries”). Every single one. But Trump has been roundly hated for wanting to limit the Muslim population in the U.S. And hated by gays, too,for that.

          • Those people aren’t in office anymore. Trump claimed he’d be different than others. Trump unlike past “Presidents” is vocal about his feelings about Muslim and Mexicans and grossly over generalizes also focusing on the worst aspects.

            There are criminals in all groups of people!

      • Where’s Trump leadership in condemning Chechnya for what it is doing to gay men? He said he’d protect GLBT during his campaign yet like a lot of what he says, all we get is lip service!
        He’s been silent on what is happening over there and has yet to do anything about it. Obama and Kerry would have been on it from day one!

        • If he says one word you’ll call him Islamophobic. He did allow Nikki Haley to condemn it though.

          • The buck stops at the White House. He spoke on Syria despite having Nikki Haley condemn them!

            His silence on Chechnya is an insult and unacceptable! If it was Christians being sent to concentration camps he’d be all over it!

          • True. But he was never raked over the coals for that. He’s allowed to criticize Muslim attacks on Muslims, but not Muslims just utiliizing their own religious decisions, in their own territories, to get rid of gays.

          • What are you babbling about? Trump has anathema for immigrants in general. If it was just reserved to Muslim you’d have an argument but it extends to others like Mexicans!

          • He has a problem with Mexican illegals only. But ALL immigrants ? I doubt he’s restricting the Indians and other Asians (Hindus and Buddhists…). But gays just don’t want him restricting Muslims (of any color). It’s probably a self-hating thing.

          • And that is racist because there are illegals from all nationalities in this country including Asians. Many fly to Hawaii for example, have kids there making their kids Americans. But it’s the Latinos that get singled out!
            I don’t care if he restricts Muslims but don’t try and sell me that they are all the boogey man. There are lots of Muslims in this country. I work with them. I see them at the malls or supermarkets. You can’t get me to support Trump through hysteria and fear!

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