Gay Chechens give accounts of roundups, beatings, extortion

Amid reports of a ‘purge’ of gay men in Chechnya, three men from the region tell their stories.

Note: This article has been republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Read the original report here.

Local authorities in Chechnya are alleged to be out for blood when it comes to homosexuality. Human rights groups and a major Russian newspaper say that in recent months gay Chechens have been rounded up because of their sexual orientation, beaten, blackmailed, and even killed.

RFE/RL’s Russian Service spoke to three gay Chechen men who gave their personal accounts of their escapes from the abuse they faced in the southern Russian republic, where homosexuality is stigmatised and so-called honour killings carried out by family members are not uncommon.

In each case, the men’s names have been changed to protect their identity.


In October, Said says, he was set up by friends he had been known for 1 1/2 years. They had been regular guests at his home in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and they had spoken openly about various topics. Then came the blackmail — one day they demanded 2.5 million rubles ($44,000) from him, threatening to publish audio and video evidence of his homosexuality if he didn’t pay up.

He decided not to. He sold his car and fled Chechnya — first for Krasnodar and then for Moscow, telling everyone he had emigrated to Europe.

In January, however, he returned to Grozny for family reasons. He promptly left, he says, but not before he was seen by police acquainted with his blackmailers. “Mom called and told me officers were asking for me. Then they took the phone from her and [a man called and] asked where I was,” he says. “I replied that I was in Krasnodar. He said, ‘Let me send a car for you, come here.'”

Said says he knew exactly why they were contacting him and declined to travel to meet them. Then, he alleges, police officers took his brother hostage and threatened not to release him until Said returned to Grozny. That evening, Said says, he received a call from his sister and other relatives; they were trying to persuade him to return.

“Mom didn’t know anything about me and what had happened. At the beginning, I couldn’t tell her, but then I admitted that I’m gay. She said: ‘That’s not a problem, just come here. We know you didn’t do anything bad, and they’re saying that if everything they say about you is untrue then they will apologise before every member of the family.’ But I realised that they wanted to lure me in to obtain information from me and then simply kill me.”

One of Said’s relatives, an officer, called him. “I knew that he knew and I told him: ‘I’m gay.’ He replied, ‘I know, there is nothing left but to kill you.’ I told him, ‘OK I’ll come, but promise that you will kill me without coming near me.’ He wouldn’t make that promise because he knew that they needed my acquaintances’ contact details.”

Said never returned home, and today he is in a European country. He has ceased all contact with his family. He says he used to hear news of his family through an acquaintance from Grozny. He was told that the police had, in fact, detained his brother, and that every day police and officers of the Interior Ministry’s SOBR special-police unit would come to the house and pressure his relatives, demanding that they persuade him to return.

Unfortunately, he says, he has since lost his connection home, and has no idea what is happening with his family. He can’t phone his relatives, he says, because he is afraid their phones are tapped.

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