Reports that Chechnya had renewed its gay ‘purge’ surfaced last week.

It was reported last week that Chechnya had renewed its crackdown on the LGBTQ community after warning aimed at the queer community appeared on social media, urging them all to flee the southern Russian region.

It has since been reported that in this renewed ‘purge’ that 40 people have been detained, and two people have been killed. Reports say that the two deaths were caused by police torture.

Much like the first wave of persecution back in 2017, police threatened the victims’ families with violence if they spoken out about the crackdown.

Authorities have also reportedly taken documents from the prisoners so they cannot escape the region while being held at a jail in the town of Argun.

“The persecution of men and women suspected of homosexuality never ceased,” said Igor Kochetkov, the programme director for the Russian LGBT Network. “The only thing that has changed is its scale.”

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta – who unveiled the first instance of an LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya back in 2017 – have also partially confirmed these fresh reports.

Writing on Twitter, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote: “If this is true, it is totally unacceptable & Russian authorities must not only stop this from happening but hold those responsible to account.”

Foreign Office Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, went further, saying: “The persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya is utterly appalling.

“Recent reports indicate that two people have died in custody following torture, and a further 40 remain in detention – all simply for their sexual orientation. Persecution for being LGBT, in any country in the world, is abhorrent.

“The Russian authorities must protect their people from these human rights abuses, and conduct a credible investigation into these reports immediately. There should be no climate of impunity for those who commit these abuses.

“We and the international community have repeatedly called for the Russian Government to conduct an investigation and hold those responsible for human rights abuses in Chechnya to account, including through the 2018 OSCE Moscow Mechanism.”

Sir Alan finished by saying: “All decent people very much hope that Chechnya can put an end to this sort of barbaric persecution and step into the modern world of civility and tolerance.”

Dave Frenkel via Twitter @merr1k

The U.S. State Department also issued a statement regarding the reports. Robert Palldino, the department’s deputy spokesman, said: “We are deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya about renewed attacks against individuals perceived to be members of the LGBTI community.

“Civil society groups report that at least 40 individuals have been illegally detained since December, including two who reportedly died in custody after being tortured.

“We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, and launch an immediate investigation into these human rights abuses.”

However, even if Russia does launch an investigation, it’s unlikely that any action will be taken. Russia was forced to launch an investigation the first time that the purge was reported, but back in May, Alexander Konovalov, Russia’s justice minister, told the United Nations: “The investigations that we carried out did not confirm evidence of rights’ violations, nor were we even able to find representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya.”