Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pixabay
Two gay men who escaped Chechnya and fled to other parts of Russia have been forcibly returned by Russian police, an LGBTQ+ rights organisation has said.
According to The Guardian, Chechnya has opened a terrorism investigation into the two men.
Chechnya, led by Ramzan Kadyrov, is a Muslim-majority subdivision of the Russian Federation and known for being extremely homophobic. Over the last four years, there have been multiple reports of anti-gay purges in the territory, including abductions, imprisonment, torture and death.
The Russian LGBT Network says Salekh Magamodov and Ismail Isayeva, 20 and 17, escaped from Chechnya last year to avoid arrest by police for moderating a digital opposition group; they say they were tortured and forced to record apology videos.
However, they were seized and abducted from the city of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, last Thursday.
LGBT Network spokesperson Tim Bestsvet claims Chechen media have said the pair are now being detained on suspicion of “aiding terrorism.”
Bestsvet adds that one of the men phoned the charity before the abduction only for screaming to be heard in the background.
The Guardian also reports that Akhmed Dudyaev, aide to leader Kadyrov, has said the pair confessed to helping an illegal armed group – a crime carrying a 15-year prison sentence. He added the detention is legal and attempts to influence the case are “senseless and futile.”
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