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Novaya Gazetta, the Russian investigative newspaper which first published reports of the coordinated elimination of suspected gay and bi men in the semi-autonomous Russian state of Chechnya, is now saying that 26 Chechens have been murdered in “extrajudicial killings” as part of the country’s anti-LGBTQ purge. (The news source is in Russian.)
The publication goes on to accuse Chechen authorities of a systematic sabotage of Russia’s investigation efforts. While little faith has been placed in Russia’s investigation — especially since Russian authorities initially dodged questions and then prematurely dismissed reports of anti-LGBTQ violence there — Novaya Gazetta claims that Chechen officials have taken the following steps to obstruct Russia’s investigation nonetheless:
— Some Chechen police have refused to participate in the investigation. Heda Saratova, head of the Human Rights Council in Chechnya, has reportedly been “sick” as to not participate either.
— One of the suspected detainment sites, a former military barracks in Argun, has been buried up to its roof in construction debris. The prisoners who resided there have reportedly been relocated to a special police force training base 60 kilometers north in Terek.
— Chechen officials have forced relatives of dead, missing or escaped gay and bi men to fraudulently sign affidavits claiming that their relatives left Chechnya to work elsewhere in Russia. Furthermore, these relatives have been asked to contact the victims of Chechnya’s anti-LGBTQ violence and tell them not to speak with the the investigative team.
Nevertheless, Novaya Gazetta has also reported that some Chechen police officers have secretly helped investigators by passing along a list naming all of the apprehended detainees. Investigators are also looking into reports of violent threats directed at Novaya Gazetta’s journalists by Chechnya’s religious leaders for their reportage on the anti-LGBTQ purge.
The Russia LGBT Network continues to state that the U.S. State Department is denying visas to Chechen LGBTQ people who have fled the region for their safety. Women and trans people have been caught up in the anti-LGBTQ purge as well.
(Featured image by AlexeyBorodin via iStock Photography)