2019-01-14 15:13:00

Rights activists report detention of 40 LGBT in Chechnya, Grozny official says it's 'absolute lie'

Moscow, January 14, Interfax - Members of the LGBT community have been detained and two have been killed in Chechnya since the end of 2018, according to the human rights organization Russian LGBT Network.

The republic's authorities have denied the claim.

"The Russian LGBT Network has learned that a new wave of detentions of men and women associated with their presumed or real sexual orientation in Chechnya began in late 2018. According to information possessed by the Russian LGBT Network, some 40 people have been detained since the end of 2018, and at least two people have been killed," the organization's press service told Interfax.

According to Russian LGBT Network program director Igor Kochetkov, the precise number of detainees may be higher. The detentions are being conducted by law enforcement officials, the detainees are being illegally held in the city of Argun, their documents are being taken away from them, and two detainees have died from torture, he said.

Alvi Karimov, the press secretary of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, responded to the claim, saying, "It's an absolute lie, in which there is absolutely no truth. No detentions based on sexual orientation took place or could have taken place in the Chechen Republic in these periods," Karimov told Interfax.

The authors of the report have no idea about Chechnya, its mentality, and the way people communicate there, he said. "If just one person was detained in the Chechen Republic, let alone 40, everyone would know about it. That makes talk about the alleged killing of two people even more absurd," he said.

Karimov said Kochetkov and the other people behind this material, which he called "fake," "have gotten stuck in 2017-2018 in their fictions."

"They apparently forgot that the so-called Argun prison has been inspected by Western journalists and human rights organizations thousands of times. There are no secret prisons there or in other populated areas. I am surprised that they have still not launched a fake story about how a prison for gays is being built under the guise of the Veduchi all-season mountain-skiing base," Karimov said.

The reason for such attempts to discredit the republic's administration and the people of Chechnya is the fact that Chechnya has managed to destroy international terrorism and restore order in the republic, he said. "They are concerned that the Islamic people is growing stronger, that it is reviving and observing spiritual and moral values," he said.