August 8, 2017 at 11:04 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Russian court stops deportation of gay journalist

Novaya Gazeta, Khudoberdi Nurmatov, gay news, Washington Blade

Khudoberdi Nurmatov, a gay reporter for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta who writes under the pen name Ali Feruz, says he would face torture in his native Uzbekistan if Russian authorities deport him. (Photo courtesy of Ali Feruz’s Facebook page)

A Russian court on Tuesday has stopped the deportation of a gay journalist who claims he would be tortured in his native Uzbekistan.

Police on Aug. 1 detained Khudoberdi Nurmatov, a reporter for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta who writes under the pen name Ali Feruz, in Moscow.

Novaya Gazeta reported Nurmatov, who was born in Russia but grew up in Uzbekistan, fled the former Soviet republic in 2008 after authorities kidnapped him from his home and “tortured” him because of his “political views.” Nurmatov has been trying to receive asylum in Russia for more than two years.

The European Court of Human Rights on Aug. 4 blocked Nurmatov’s deportation, pending the outcome of his appeal. Radio Free Europe reported the Moscow City Court ruled Russian authorities cannot deport Nurmatov until the European Court of Human Rights issues its ruling.

Russia, which is a member of the Council of Europe, is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights that created the European Court of Human Rights. A law that President Vladimir Putin signed in 2015 allows Russia’s Constitutional Court to decide whether the country should comply with rulings from the European Court of Human Rights and other international judicial bodies.

Nurmatov last week reportedly tried to take his own life inside the courtroom after a judge ordered his deportation, but bailiffs stopped him. Novaya Gazeta reported Nurmatov has been beaten, Tasered and insulted with anti-gay slurs at the detention center outside of Moscow in which he is being held.

Nurmatov’s lawyer, Philip Shishov, on Tuesday in a statement said he saw “huge bruises” on his client’s body. Shishov added Nurmatov has formally accused a police officer who escorted him to the detention center after his arrest of beating and Tasering him.

Shishov also said Nurmatov fears for his life and “provocations that would lead to reports of his alleged suicide.”

“The authorities must clearly ensure his security,” said Shishov.

Novaya Gazeta in April began reporting on the anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya, which is a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses. The European Court of Human Rights in June ruled a Russian law that bans so-called gay propaganda to minors is discriminatory and violates freedom of speech.

Nurmatov will remain in custody until the court rules in his case.

“The suspension of Ali Feruz’s deportation to Uzbekistan — where he faces a real risk of persecution and torture and homosexuality is a crime — is a positive step,” said Denis Krivosheev, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, in a statement. “However, his continued detention despite his claims he has been beaten is disgraceful.”

“He has committed absolutely no crime,” he added.

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

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