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Russian LGBT Network formally requests federal investigation on Chechnya amid death threats to director

Meduza

The Russian LGBT Network has requested that Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee look into reports of renewed arrests, torture, and killings of those suspected of being LGBTQ in Chechnya, Mediazona reports. The Network has led efforts to help victims of anti-LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya escape the region for multiple years.

LGBT Network activists also named one of those arrested in the current crisis. Bekkhan Yusupov reportedly received asylum in France but returned to Chechnya to visit his family. In addition to making Yusupov’s arrest public, the Network made materials available to the Investigative Committee that testified to the killing of a Russian citizen between January 1 and 20 at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Igor Kochetkov, the Network’s executive director of programs, has described torture methods that include “beatings, sexual assault, and torture using electric shocks.” Meduza’s sources in the Russian LGBT Network and the LGBTQ community of the North Caucasus have previously confirmed that Chechen police have used these and other methods of torture, killing multiple people within the past several weeks.

In the hours after it released additional information about the crisis in Chechnya, the Russian LGBT Network began reporting that it had received death threats addressed to Kochetkov. The Network shared one clip on Facebook in which a man called the longtime human rights advocate “devil’s spawn” and less than human before threatening him explicitly.

Chechen authorities have repeatedly denied and derided reports of renewed persecution in the region, and the Russian federal government has not taken meaningful steps to address the crisis since it was first reported in the spring of 2017.