LGBT activists sue Novaya Gazeta for articles on persecution of gays in Chechnya

Activists from GayRussia.ru have filed a lawsuit against newspaper Novaya Gazeta in light of claims in the publication’s articles on the persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya. The lawsuit, intended to safeguard the organization’s reputation, has been filed at Moscow’s Basmanny Court, said the project’s founder Nikolai Alekseev in a Facebook post.

In an interview with publication TJournal, Alekseev clarified that he hopes that the lawsuit will force Novaya Gazeta to refute its claims that the persecution of homosexuals resulted from GayRussia’s attempt to conduct mass protests in Chechnya. GayRussia will also seek a million rubles (approximately $17,824) in damages for emotional distress; the money would be donated to charity.

Alekseev also established that he intends to appeal to Russia’s Investigative Committee to initiate a criminal case on libel.

After receiving news of the hearing, Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief Alexei Polukhin wrote on Facebook that, “for the sake of self-promotion and token gestures from the [European Court of Human Rights], Alekseev’s supporters “applied for the right to hold [gay] parades [in Chechnya], and then the repressions began.”

In an interview with newspaper RBK, Novaya Gazeta spokesperson Nadezhda Prusenkova said: “If we recall, it was GayRussia’s statement on holding gay pride parades in the North Caucasus that [led to] the start of the persecution of gays in the region. It seems that they are trying to [free] themselves from blame, but are doing so in a rather strange way.”

On April 1, Novaya Gazeta published an article on the detention of at least 100 people accused of being homosexuals in Chechnya. Chechen authorities have denied both the detention of homosexuals and the very presence of homosexuals in the republic.