25 October 2022
Responding to the news that a Russian court has upheld lengthy prison terms for Chechen LGBTI siblings Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev, who stand falsely accused of “aiding illegal armed groups,” Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said:
“The court’s decision today is the final step in this farcical, unfair trial. Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev will now be imprisoned for many years, yet their only ‘crime’ in the eyes of the Chechen authorities is their open participation in the LGBTI community and peaceful criticism of the local authorities. Freely expressing oneself has become a serious crime in Chechnya and Russia as a whole.
“Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev must be immediately and unconditionally released. The authorities must also order a thorough investigation into violations of their rights, including allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.”
On 25 October 2022, the Fifth Cassation Court in Pyatigorsk upheld the verdict passed in February 2022, which saw Salekh Magamadov sentenced to eight years and Ismail Isaev to six years in prison after finding them guilty of trumped-up charges of “aiding illegal armed groups”.
Ismail Isaev is gay and Salekh Magamadov is a gender non-conforming person. They previously moderated Osal Nakh 95, a youth-led Telegram channel that was reportedly critical of the Chechen authorities.
In August 2019, Ismail Isaev, 16 years old at the time, was abducted, held incommunicado, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, before being made to “apologize” on camera for his alleged involvement with Osal Nakh 95.
The siblings then moved to Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia, but on 4 February 2021, they were again apprehended by Chechen police in an abduction-style operation at an apartment provided by LGBT Network, a Russian NGO.