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Chechen Leader Denies Reports of Gay Pogrom

Novaya Gazeta newspaper fears retribution from local Muslims infuriated over attack on their honor and faith.

21 April 2017

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied allegations of a wave of repression against gay men in the Russian republic.

 

"Provocative articles about Chechnya [have] reported so-called arrests," he said in an exchange with President Vladimir Putin yesterday, according to Russian news agencies cited by The Telegraph.

 

"It's even embarrassing to talk about it. It's said there have been what are called arrests, murders,” he added.

 

Three weeks after the newspaper Novaya Gazeta said it had evidence of a state-run crackdown on gays, more men have come forward with accounts of being held and beaten or tortured to reveal names of other gays in the republic, AFP reports.

 

One man, who like others has fled to other parts of Russia, said he was beaten by three men in military uniform last October.

 

"They filmed everything. They told me it would end up on social media unless I paid 200,000 rubles [$3,550]. I borrowed the money and paid it," he said.

 

A furor over the treatment of gays in the conservative Muslim republic, and even their existence, broke out when Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 gay men had been rounded up and tortured, at least three of them dying in the process.

 

 

A spokesman for Kadyrov last week denounced the report as “absolute lies and disinformation,” saying in any case there were no gays in Chechnya.

 

“You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” he told Interfax news agency, the Guardian reported.

 

The Guardian spoke with several gay men who described being beaten or given electric shocks after being detained, although it is not clear whom they accuse of responsibility.

 

A gay rights activist in St. Petersburg said dozens of people had contacted him asking for help.

 

At a meeting in Chechnya’s main mosque called after Novaya Gazeta’s articles were published, participants issued a resolution saying its journalists had “insulted the centuries-old foundations of Chechen society and the dignity of Chechen men,” as well as their faith.

 

“We promise that the true instigators will be subjected to retribution, wherever and whoever they are, without statute of limitations,” the resolution read, according to Meduza.

 

“It is obvious to us that this resolution is pushing religious fanatics to massacre journalists,” the newspaper’s editorial board said.

 

 

  • Novaya Gazeta’s journalists have paid a heavy price for its hard-hitting investigations of the underside of Russian life, particularly focusing on human rights abuses in Chechnya and other North Caucasus regions.

 

 

  • In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of Kadyrov’s regime, was shot dead in Moscow. Natalia Estemirova, a journalist and activist was killed soon after unknown assailants abducted her in Grozny in 2009.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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