Inside Chechnya’s ‘anti-gay pogrom’


Using classic KGB tactics, Chechen security officers are targeting and torturing gay men, the New York Times reports:

Novaya Gazeta, an opposition newspaper, first reported the pogrom, saying that at least 100 gay men had been arrested and three killed in the roundup. Human Rights Watch corroborated those findings.

The sweep has been widely condemned by Western governments, the United Nations and rights groups. Activists in Russia have set up an underground network to spirit the victims out of Chechnya and to protect them from potentially violent reprisals from their families and others. The victims use assumed names in their everyday dealings.

Russia’s top human rights officer said she suspected the whole affair was a provocation. She pointed out that no victim of abuse had filed an official response with police, the BBC reports.

“Chechen people are not crazy! They will not go to the people doing the torturing to write a complaint,” exclaims Elena Milashina, the journalist who first uncovered allegations of abuse:

She says her team at Novaya Gazeta have now given Russian investigators a list of names of those who have disappeared. After thorough checks, she is convinced at least two gay men have been killed.

Novaya’s editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, said he heard a “direct call for reprisals” in an open letter to the mufti of Chechnya. “The newspaper remembers well and will never forget the contract killings of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova. There has been enough violence in our country.”

Novaya Gazeta reporter Milashina accepted the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2007 Democracy Award (above, center) on behalf of Politkovskaya, who was murdered at her apartment building on October 7, 2006, who was honored posthumously.

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