A horrific LGBT purge in a Russian region ruled by an 'Instagram-addicted' warlord has killed 2 more people, activists say

  • About 40 gay men and women were detained in a widespread purge against LGBT people in Chechnya, a mostly-Muslim region in southern Russia, activists said.
  • Two gay men were tortured to death in detention, the Russian LGBT Network said on Monday.
  • The latest alleged purge, which reportedly started last month, comes after reports that Chechnya detained and tortured around 100 others in 2017.
  • The region is ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, a Kremlin-installed warlord who regularly posted photos of cats on Instagram until Facebook took down his account more than a year ago.
  • Russia as a whole discriminates against the LGBT community, but not to the extent of Chechnya.

Two gay men have been tortured to death in a horrific purge on LGBT people in Chechnya, a mostly-Muslim region in southern Russia, activists said.

About 40 men and women were detained in the latest crackdown on gay people, which began late last month, the Russian LGBT Network said in a Monday statement.

The two known victims, who were not named, died of torture in detention. There may be more people who have died.

The ‘Instagram-addicted ruler’

The purge was carried out by Chechen law enforcement officers, who are preventing victims from leaving the region or taking their cases to court, the network’s program director Igor Kochetkov said.

Local police have taken away their documents, and threatened them and their family with criminal proceedings, Kochetkov added.

Chechnya is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, a Kremlin-installed ruler widely described in Western media as a warlord, and who regularly posted photos of himself cuddling cats on social media.

The New York Times described Kadyrov as “Instagram-addicted” in 2015.

Facebook took down his Instagram and Facebook accounts in December 2017, shortly after the US Treasury Department sanctioned him for human rights abuses.

Another Instagram account linked to Kadyrov resurfaced in November 2018, but Chechen officials claimed it was created by the warlord’s fans, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Instagram has since deleted that account as well.

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Reports of the latest purge come after allegations that Chechen authorities arrested more than 100 gay men and tortured them, leaving some of them dead. Chechen authorities have denied those accusations.

A gay man who fled Chechnya anonymously told the BBC in 2017 that he was beaten and subjected to electro-torture. He said his home country had been “exterminating gay men” until “there are none left in the republic.”

He said: “Chechens have no right to be gay. They have to be warriors, straight, sportsmen. Being gay is just not acceptable for them.”

The LGBT community faces pressure in Russia as well. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last November that Russia discriminated against gay people by banning gay pride marches and protests.

Furthermore, Russia regarded homosexuality as a criminal offence until 1993, and classed it as a mental illness until 1999.

President Vladimir Putin in 2013 passed a law banning the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations” – which is generally understood to mean information about LGBT people – to children on places like newspapers, TV, radio, and the internet.

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