A Russian advocacy group on Monday said at least two people have been killed and upwards of 40 people have been detained in the latest anti-LGBTI crackdown in Chechnya.

The Russian LGBT Network in a press release said a “new wave of illegal detentions in Chechnya based on the alleged sexual orientation of victims, both men and women” began late last year with the detention of an administrator of a social networking group.

“It was followed by other numerous detentions,” said the Russian LGBT Network. “The Russian LGBT Network learned about this situation in the beginning of January 2019. There is information that around 40 people were detained, both men and women. At least two people died as a result of torture.”

Igor Kochetkov, a prominent Russian LGBTI activist, in the press release said “it is impossible to name the precise number of victims.”

“However, we know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in Argun (a town outside of the Chechen capital of Grozny.) The local police makes (sic) every effort to prevent the victims from leaving the region or applying to the courts. They take away documents, they threat the victims with the criminal proceedings against them or their close ones, and they force them to sign empty forms.”

Chechnya is a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus.

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, in April 2017 reported Chechen authorities had arrested more than 100 men because of their sexual orientation. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last month released a report that documents extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses against LGBTI people in Chechnya.

The Associated Press on Monday reported a spokesperson for Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov — a close ally of Russian President of Vladimir Putin — described the reports to the Interfax news agency as “complete lies and don’t have an ounce of truth in them.” President Trump — who is under increased scrutiny over his alleged involvement in the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — has not publicly commented on the anti-LGBTI crackdown.

The Washington Blade will provide additional updates as they become available.

Story courtesy of the Washington Blade. 

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