This weekend, HBO Real Sports aired its interview with Ramzan Kadyrov, the mixed martial arts event promoter who is also the leader of Chechnya — the semi-autonomous Russian state where there has been an ongoing half-year campaign of kidnapping, detaining, torturing and killing LGBTQ people.
During the interview, Kadyrov denied the existence of gay Chechens and said that removing them would “purify the [nation’s] blood.”
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov excused Kadyrov’s comments away, stating, “As for Kadyrov’s interview, frankly speaking, very often, his words are taken out of context. He said that when considered in the correct context, “nothing out of the ordinary was said there.”
Russia has long denied Chechnya’s anti-LGBTQ purge
Peskov’s comments are just the latest indication of the Russian government’s lack of serious effort to intervene in Chechnya’s ongoing anti-LGBTQ purge which is said to have recently restarted after a brief hiatus around the Ramadan holiday (May 26 to June 24).
In late April 2017, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova dismissed questions about Chechnya’s purge by stating that Russia’s investigation would determine the truth. Barely two weeks later, before the official investigation had even concluded, the Russian Embassy in Israel wrote to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz stating, “There are no victims of persecution, threats or violence.”
During its official investigation, Chechen officials coerced its citizens not to participate with Russian authorities and literally buried evidence of the purge.
Last week, Putin’s spokesperson shrugged off the recent listing of the 27 men believed to have been killed in Chechnya’s purge, stating “We have similarly taken note of the denials of this information by Chechen law enforcement bodies. The information is of an anonymous character. It’s unclear what the source of this information is.“
However, Novaya Gazeta, the news source that reported the names, explained where the names came from and even offered to help Russian agents determine the victims’ identities.
The real reason Russia doesn’t want to intervene in Chechnya
A Human Rights Watch report from late May 2017 contained a detail that could explain why Russia is so unwilling to get involved. In early 2014, Kadyrov instructed Chechnya’s law enforcement officers to “shoot to kill” any Russian federal law enforcement or security personnel who visited Chechnya without his consent.
Kadyrov is willing to kill any of Putin’s people who cross the border, making the prospect of seriously challenging him potentially bloody.
Featured image by valentinrussanov via iStock