“Several times a day we were taken out and beaten”

Tom Parfitt in The Times (the London one) today:

Victims of a violent campaign against gay men in Chechnya have described being beaten, tortured and held in a secret prison.

At least three people were allegedly killed and dozens abused after police rounded up more than 100 men, including religious figures, a hairdresser and a television host.
Some of those detained over the past two months were struck with pieces of wood, made to sit on bottles or subjected to electric shocks, according to testimony collected by Novaya Gazeta, the independent Russian newspaper.

One unidentified victim said that he had been taken to a secret detention facility where dozens of gay men were held alongside suspected Islamists who had fought in Syria.

“Several times a day we were taken out and beaten,” he said. “Their main aim was to find out your circle of contacts — in their minds if you are a suspect then your circle of contacts are all gay. They kept our phones switched on. Any man who called or wrote was a new catch. They attached an electro-shocker to our hands and turned the handle to produce a current. It was painful.”

The men were also beaten with plastic pipes, the victim said. “They always hit us below the waist — on the thighs, the buttocks, the loins. They said we were dogs who had no right to life.”

Another man said he had fled abroad after police in Chechnya beat him repeatedly and extorted money from him in exchange for not telling his relatives about his sexual orientation.

But Kadyrov says it’s all lies.

An anonymous man told a helpline run by LGBT activists that he had been held at a barracks near the town of Argun, along with 15 other people.

Chechnya is ruled by President Kadyrov, 40, a supporter of President Putin. When Novaya Gazeta published its initial report of the abuse on Saturday Mr Kadyrov’s spokesman, Alvi Karimov, said it was “absolute lies”.

“You cannot detain and persecute people who do not exist in the republic,” he said. “If there were such people in Chechnya, their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

So they’re not being tortured and killed, because they don’t exist, because their relatives killed them all. That’s ok then.

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