Gay Chechens Aren’t Being Tortured Because Russia Says So

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The Russian embassy to Israel recently released a statement on the situation for LGBT people in Chechnya, and it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

Noting that Putin’s “investigation” has concluded, Russian officials reported back that “there are no victims of persecution” in the republic, as evidenced by the fact that neither the Chechen human rights body nor law enforcement received reports of abuse. (Never mind the fact that LGBT organizations say victims have been too afraid to report and Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied that there are any gay men inside his territory.)

The enervating yet utterly predictable repudiation came in response to an article by the leftist Israeli newspaper Haaretz, published on April 5th, which described secret detention facilities where over 100 gay men have been tortured, some to death. The story of those camps was first reported by Elena Milashina in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

“Authorized official government bodies of the Russian Federation, in cooperation with the government of the Chechen Republic, investigated the claims made by journalist Elena Milashina in her articles published in the Novaya Gazeta newspaper and in other Russian media outlets,” wrote Press Attaché Dmitry Alushkin.

Alushkin claimed that the “head of the LGBT community in Russia, Nikolay Alexeyev, also rejected the report.” (If Alexeyev is truly the leader of the LGBT Russian community, he’s certainly a controversial one; in 2013, he authored an op-ed  for the Russian-owned propaganda network, RT, alleging that gay propaganda laws actually help gay people.)

Calling the reports of abuse in Chechnya, essentially, smear campaigns, Alushkin went on to note that he’d appreciate if everyone just towed the party line. “We would like to note that the Russian system of government is of a democratic nature and we are calling to rely on objective and reliable data — and not on rumors and speculation — to analyze the political developments in our country,” he wrote.

Because if there’s one nation that should be trusted to credibly investigate threats to gay people, it’s Russia.

About The Author

Steven Blum is the digital editor of FourTwoNine. He's written for Vice's Broadly, The Stranger, Blackbook Magazine, Tablet and the Daily Dot.

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