Chechnya gay purge: LGBT people ‘sexually assaulted with electric shock sticks’

Demonstrators lay roses on a rainbow flag as they protest over an alleged Chechnya anti-gay purge outside the Russian Embassy in London on June 2, 2017.

Authorities in Chechnya are reportedly sexually assaulting women from the country’s LGBT community with “electric shock sticks”.

Women are being targeted with sexual violence as part of the ongoing anti-LGBT crackdown, according to the Russian LGBT Network.

The so-called “gay purge” began in 2017 when reports emerged of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people being kidnapped, detained, tortured and murdered in the autonomous region of Russia.

The violence has escalated in recent weeks, according to the organisation, which has said people are being rounded up in the town of Argun, as well as a police station in the Chechen capital Grozny.

Igor Kochetkov, programme director of the Russian LGBT Network, said a “new wave” of detentions started at the end of December 2018.

Escalating violence

Last week, the organisation said last week that two Chechens had died after being tortured and a further 40 had been detained since the crackdown began in last month.

“Now we know that there are a few places where people suspected of being homosexual are detained. One of them is the police office of Zavodskoy district of Grozny,” he said in a statement on the organisation’s website.

“Once again, it proves that all the detentions, tortures and murders are committed by the law enforcement officers.”

Survivors have said victims are being subjected to increasingly cruel and violent forms of torture, the organisation said.

A protest in Berlin calling on Russian President to put an end to the persecution of gay men in Chechnya. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty)

Both women and men are being targeted, with some women raped using “electric shock sticks”.

Men who have been detained have their heads shaved and they are forced to wear women’s clothes, the network added.

One survivor told the Network: “They did not feed us. Sometimes they gave us some water, dirty water that was left after mopping. They gave us clean water only for prayer.”

Since April 2017, the Russian LGBT Network has evacuated around 150 people out of the region.

Chechen women targeted

Speaking to Pink News last year, the network said lesbian and transgender women were being targeted by Chechen authorities.

Zamira*, a transgender Chechen woman said she found out about the anti-LGBT purge in 2017. Although she didn’t believe it for a long time, she lived her life in hiding.

“I did not go out, I communicated with very few people. So I saw this information online only and like many others I believed that it was not true,”  she says, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Until the moment they started to hunt me.”

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-approved leader of Chechnya, has denied accusations of the anti-LGBT purge, accusing activists of fabricating allegations of abuse.

He has also denied the existence of any LGBT people in the region.