CPJ: investigate threats to paper over Chechen gay torture

Alain Brian
Avril 18, 2017

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, has reported authorities in Chechnya, which is a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the Caucasus that is predominantly Muslim, have arrested more than 100 men in "connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such".

Joe Biden is "disgusted and appalled" by reports of authorities in Chechnya torturing and killing men who are believed to be gay or bisexual.

With evidence of gay concentration camps increasing, a spokesperson for Chechnya's Russian-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied any mass targeting.

Novaya Gazeta had called on the Kremlin for protection on April 14, saying it fears for the safety of its journalists after they exposed the persecution of gay men in Chechnya. The Russian independent opposition newspaper also published reports that alleged about a half-dozen people had been killed, while others suffered acts of torture at the hands of government agents in the Chechen capital of Grozny, and the city of Argun, in what were described as special detention facilities.

A resolution was adopted declaring the journalists had "insulted the centuries-old foundations of Chechen society and the dignity of Chechen men", as well as their faith.

Earlier this month Novaya Gazeta published accounts of almost 100 men who were detained in Chechnya, "in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation".

Dmitry Muratov, Novaya's editor, said on Friday that the resolution was an incitement to violence and that he was anxious about his staff's safety.

Since the story broke, several Russian and global media outlets published testimonies of queer Chechen men who managed to flee the republic.

On Thursday, Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said he had been informed of the threats against Novaya Gazeta reporters and said, "If in someone's opinion, there were slanderous materials, there are legal methods of challenging prescribed by the law". Officials at Human Rights Watch have interviewed several people who were detained and abused, and corroborate the Novaya Gazeta reports.

A meeting of elders and Islamic leaders in Chechnya after the story appeared called for retribution, which Novaya Gazeta said "pushes religious fanatics toward the massacre of journalists".

"They are being supported and we send them all of our love".

Meanwhile, the Russian LGBT Network said they had been contacted by around 40 men affected by the round-up after setting up a confidential hotline.

Chechen authorities promptly denied this, using the argument that gay people "just don't exist in the republic".

Failure to follow through with the so-called "honor killings", the paper said, would heap "shame" and "disgrace" on the Muslim families in Chechnya.

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