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Russian security forces reportedly recruit gay Muslim men in the North Caucasus through blackmail

In a new interview with the website The Caucasian Knot, a Salafi man says he fled Dagestan after agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) tried to blackmail him into accepting a special mission in Syria.

The man, identifying himself only as Ruslan, says he was stopped in the street in late 2013 in the city of Derbent and brought to a hotel, where FSB agents showed him a secretly filmed video that revealed him being intimate with another man.

The officers reportedly told Ruslan that they would inform all his friends and relatives that he is gay, if he refused to work for the FSB in Syria. In Russia's North Caucasus, gay people are sometimes murdered by their own families, when their sexual orientations are revealed.

Instead, Ruslan said he needed to think about it, and soon fled to Turkey, through Azerbaijan.

There was this one guy I knew. He met someone online, a guy who turned out to be a phony. He invited my friend back to his place, where people were already waiting for him. As I understand it, they beat him up bad, and took his phone. Then they told him that they know what he does privately, that they knew about his ties to other guys, and that they could recruit him. So he became an activist, participating in different events organized by the government.

The Caucasian Knot

More than 100 gay men in Chechnya have reportedly been kept in secret prisons, tortured, and forced to denounce other gay men. Three men have reportedly been killed. Novaya Gazeta, Radio Liberty, Meduza, and The Guardian have independently corroborated a mass crackdown on gay men in Chechnya. Local authorities, however, have denied these accusations, insisting implausibly that there are no gays in Chechnya. President Putin has be reluctant to comment publicly on the allegations. Meduza recently published the story of one gay man who says he was forced to flee Chechnya.

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