2 Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya Were Abducted and Forcibly Sent Back
Last year, with help from the Russian LGBT Network, two gay men fled Chechnya to Russia to avoid further persecution in their country. They alleged they’d been tortured in Chechnya over a two-month period, where LGBTQ people face consistent human rights abuses. But on Feb. 4, Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev were abducted and returned to Chechnya by Russian police. They are 20 and 17 years old, respectively.
A coordinator at the Russian LGBT Network, David Isteyev, revealed that their “sexual orientation became an aggravating circumstance for their illegal imprisonment” from March 30 to June 2, 2020. They fled the country on the day of their release from imprisonment. On Feb. 4, 2021, Magamadov and Isayev were taken from a flat in Nizhny Novgorod (a safehouse set up by the Network) and forcibly returned to authorities in Chechnya.
Three days after their return to Chechnya, a terrorism investigation was opened against the two men, and they were detained. Their case, currently being investigated, could result in up to 15 years in prison. There has been no objective evidence so far to support the guilt of the two men who fled Chechnya, and lawyers have not been allowed into the temporary detention center where they’re being kept.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled they should receive access to health professionals, legal counsel and their relatives on February 8. But despite this, the “court chose a measure of restraint in the form of two-month placement in custody” for the young men. Neither their lawyers nor their parents were notified.
Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, has previously claimed there are simply no gay people in his country. He has also denied any allegations of human rights abuses, as well as allegations of illegal detentions. We’ll let the reports speak for themselves.
Human rights activist Veronika Lapina has stated, “At the moment, we can assert that Russia has not fulfilled its obligations, at least in terms of admitting independent lawyers and doctors to Salekh and Ismail: We have no information that independent doctors actually examined Salekh and Ismail. The carousel of the departments, which the Chechen police officers arranged for us, can in no way be considered the admission of independent lawyers. Also, we do not know anything about the legal grounds for the detention of Salekh and Ismail in Nizhny Novgorod.”
Hornet will be updating coverage of these two men who fled Chechnya when more information is made available.
Featured image: Ian Langsdon / EPA