Reports started last week that Chechnya had restarted carrying out ‘gay purges.’
The new reports came when a warning aimed at the queer community appeared on social media, urging them all to flee the southern Russian region.
“We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible,” read the statement.
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.
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.
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.
A volunteer for the Russian LGBT Network, who wished to remain anonymous, explained to The Daily Beast what was happening in the semi-autonomous region.
“Chechen authorities demanded that relatives punish their gay family members by executing them,” they said. “Several people who managed to escape have been raped with police clubs and tortured with electricity.”
The renewed purges have drawn international condemnation with Foreign Office minister, Sir Alan Duncan, 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.”
However, officials in Chechnya have been on the move to deny that the renewed purges are taking place. Alvi Karimov, the spokesperson for Ramzan Kadyrov, told reporters that the reports were “complete lies and don’t have an ounce of truth in them.”
Dzhambulat Umarov, the Minister of National Policy described the reports as “fantasy” and added: “Considering the fact that they [gay people] have sick imaginations to start from, I am not surprised that they can write nonsense like that.”
Back in 2017, chilling reports of young gay men being murdered by their own family members came to fruition, as authorities told parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.
A 17-year-old male was reportedly murdered by his own uncle, after being pushed from his 9th floor balcony.
The Kremlin and Chechen government have both repeatedly denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region, but Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov has never kept it a secret that he is staunchly anti-LGBTQ.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has also been heavily criticised by campaigners for not looking into the persecution LGBTQ Chechens have been subjected to.
Kadyrov publicly declared that he wanted all LGBTQ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26 2017, which marked the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.
He has maintained that all of the reports were false because in Chechnya, “we don’t have these kinds of people here.”