Russia: One year after ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya, still no justice for victims

The Russian authorities have abjectly failed to take effective action in response to the violent persecution of gay men in Chechnya, Amnesty International said one year after a series of homophobic crimes in the southern republic were exposed.

A report by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper revealed a horrifying “gay purge” in Chechnya in which dozens of men were abducted, tortured and killed. However, to date, not one person has to be held to account for these crimes.

“A year ago, this shocking news from Chechnya was ridiculed and dismissed by the Russian government. Since then we have witnessed a shocking display of denial, evasion and inaction by the authorities, who have repeatedly refused to launch an official investigation into the reported heinous crimes and ignored credible evidence provided by Novaya Gazeta and others,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

We have witnessed a shocking display of denial, evasion and inaction by the authorities, who have repeatedly refused to launch an official investigation into the reported heinous crimes
Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International

Victims of such crimes have generally had to rely on Russia’s human rights community, who have provided support and safety to individuals hunted down in Chechnya and ignored by the authorities elsewhere in Russia.

The tireless work of human rights defenders, including from the Russian LGBT Network, has resulted in 116 people being safely relocated from Chechnya, 98 of whom have left Russia.

Igor Kochetkov, the founder and council member of the Russian LGBT Network, said: “Over the past year, the Russian LGBT Network and Novaya Gazeta have undertaken the work the state was supposed to do. We have ensured the safety of victims and collected and publicized their testimonies. But one thing we could not do is launch an investigation and ensure criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. The Russian authorities, apparently, do not want to do this.”

Amnesty International reiterates its call on the Russian authorities to promptly and effectively investigate the reports of abduction, secret detention, torture and killing of men believed to be gay in the Chechen Republic.

They must take immediate action to ensure the safety of LGBTI people in the region and elsewhere in Russia.