LGL Applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Regarding Human Rights Violations in Chechnya (Russian Federation)

On April 1, 2017 a Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article reporting about an arbitrary detention, torture and killing of gay and bisexual men on a mass scale in Chechnya (Russian Federation).

The national LGBT* rights organization LGL together with the international human rights community has expressed a deep concern about the current situation in Chechnya and is working on the ways to support the victims and other people who are still in danger. The Chechen LGBT* community has been living under difficult conditions even prior to this crisis, and it is incredibly difficult to monitor current developments and provide support for the victims.

The association LGL has applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania urging to request the Russian authorities to immediately set-free all detained people and start investigation of the arbitrary detention, torture and killing. In the letter to the Ministry, Vladimir Simonko, Executive Director of LGL, stressed that “the Republic of Lithuania, as a member of the European Union and NATO, must not stay indifferent and needs to send a message that force and violence against LGBT* persons will not be tolerated.” In its letter, the association LGL urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remind the Russian authorities of their obligations to respect fundamental human rights both under the Russian Constitution and the international law.

Official statements by Chechen leaders indirectly confirm that the situation for regional LGBT* community is worsening and are clear attempts to incite hatred and escalate the situation further. The leader of the Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, responded to claims of arrests of homosexual and bisexual men to Interfax news agency with the following statement: “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

Similarly Kheda Saratova, a member of the human rights council of Chechnya, told a Russian radio station: “In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society”.

According to sources from the North Caucasus to date, over 100 people have been detained for arbitrary reasons in unofficial prisons, where victims are being tortured by electric current, cruelly beaten, and forced to disclose personal contacts of other gay men in Chechnya. The Russian LGBT Network can confirm at least 3 murders so far – out of a reported 20 murders.