Support The Moscow Times!

First Chechen to Come Out as Gay Says Public Apology Was Forced

Movsar Eskershanov (r) / Screenshot Grozny TV

The first Chechen man to come out as gay has said that he was forced to issue an apology to the leader and people of Chechnya last month after receiving threats to his family. 

Movsar Eskarkhanov apologized on Chechen state television in November for telling Time magazine that he was persecuted for being gay in the republic.

“They made it clear that if I continue to talk, there would be problems,” Eskarkhanov was cited as saying in an interview with the Kavkazsky Uzel news website on Monday. 

In his Nov. 13 apology, Eskarkhanov said that his coming-out was made under the influence of epilepsy medication. His account followed a Russian investigative newspaper report earlier this year of a large-scale crackdown on gay men in Chechnya.   

"They said that I must first think about my family. I was also told that if I continue to speak again, I would have problems,” Eskarkhanov was cited as saying by the international Russian-language channel RTVI. 

Chechens who lose favor with republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov regularly appear on television to make public apologies. Human Right Watch reported last year that several Chechens who went against the authorities were later forced to publicly apologize to local leadership.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.