The Russian LGBT Network published a report on Monday alleging the widespread detention and torture of gay people in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, adding to a series of recent reports of persecutions and killings there.
The LGBT Network says that at least 200 men are being held in secret prisons throughout Chechnya where many have been subjected to severe beatings and electric shocks for their sexual orientation.
The NGO said that at least 20 detainees were murdered by Chechen security forces, in what it describes as an “unprecedented act of mass violence towards LGBT people.”
The LGBT Network spoke to 33 men in Chechnya over four months who said they were targeted by Chechen law enforcement agencies due to their sexual orientation. The report said victims were identified via cell phones or mobile apps by gay men who had been detained.
Detainees said they were subjected to “severe beatings, torture by electric current (used both to get the names of other homosexual men and to ‘cure’ the victims of homosexuality), a lack of water, malnutrition, and lack of sleep.”
In a press release published alongside the report, the NGO says Russian authorities are either unwilling or unable to begin a criminal investigation into the allegations of abuse. “This situation can shift only if the political will of the highest officials change under the effective international pressure,” the report says.
In April, Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on secret prisons in Chechnya where gay men were allegedly detained and tortured.
In an interview with U.S. television network HBO last month, Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov dismissed reports the persecution saying there are no gay men the region. “The reports [on the persecution of gay men in Chechnya] are nonsense,” Kadyrov told the interviewer. “We don’t have any gays.”
But, he added, if “there are any take them to Canada, praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”