One of the victims of Chechnya’s mass persecution of gay men was a member of Russia’s National Guard Rosgvardia, reported Novaya Gazeta, citing unnamed sources. The publication learned that the soldier was killed alongside two other men suspected of being gay.
The newspaper also reported the murder of an ethnic Russian resident of Izhevsk, who was placed in a secret gay prison in Chechnya and then released and killed outside of the republic.
According to Novaya Gazeta, in the near future, an official decision against initiating a criminal case on the issue of gay persecution in Chechnya will be made. The decision will, however, be annulled shortly thereafter and the investigation will resume. The preliminary investigation (that which precedes an official criminal investigation) is concerned with the detention, torture, and killing of gay men in Chechnya, but also with public threats made against the journalists of Novaya Gazeta.
Novaya Gazeta reports that the relatives of gay men who have fled the Chechen Republic are now being pressured by police officers to write statements that their sons or brothers had left Chechnya “for Moscow at the end of February for work” and the relatives have no complaints whatsoever about the conduct of Chechen authorities. Novaya Gazeta has an audio record of one of these interactions.
Gay rights organization Russian LGBT Network has also begun receiving calls from gay men who were released from secret prisons in early May, i.e. after the start of the preliminary investigation. The newspaper also has information that some Chechen policemen are cooperating with the investigation and have handed over a list of detainees to special services.
On April 1, Novaya Gazeta reported that, in February and March 2017, more than 100 people were detained on suspicion of being gay in Chechnya. According to the publication, detainees were kept in secret prisons, tortured, and forced to denounce other gay men; three people were killed. Citing their own sources, Radio Liberty, Meduza, and The Guardian also reported on the persecution of gays in Chechnya. Chechen authorities accused Novaya Gazeta of libel and claimed that there are no homosexuals in the republic.
On April 14, 2017, Novaya Gazeta urged the Russian government to respond to calls for “religious fanatics to massacre journalists” allegedly voiced by Islamic theologians at a meeting convened in the central mosque of Grozny, Chechnya on April 3. The meeting, according to the publication Grozny-Inform, was attended by 15,000 people. According the Novaya Gazeta’s editorial team, the meeting participants adopted a resolution in which they declared that the journalists had “insulted the centuries-old foundations of Chechen society and the dignity of Chechen men,” as well as their faith. The participants also allegedly promised that their offenders would be “subjected to retribution, wherever and whoever they are, without statute of limitations.”
At an April 19 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov described Novaya Gazeta’s articles as “provocative” and insisted that claims of the detention of gay men in Chechnya were untrue. Kadyrov did not specify which articles he was referring to. In the same meeting, Kadyrov mentioned “unconfirmed facts”, the name Khas Tepsurkayev, and pronounced the words: “They said that he was killed, but he is at home.”
Russian LGBT Network reports that over 40 gay men have been evacuated from Chechnya and that some them have already left Russia.