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U.S. State Department Officially Responds to Chechnya Purges, Calls on Russia to Investigate Editors' Picks

U.S. State Department Officially Responds to Chechnya Purges, Calls on Russia to Investigate

Written by Stephan Horbelt on January 18, 2019

Earlier this week, the world was made aware of a new purge against LGBT people in Chechnya that resulted in dozens arrested and at least two deaths due to torture. Yesterday the U.S. State Department offered an official statement on the matter, condemning these attacks and calling on Russia to launch an immediate investigation.

On Dec. 29, a new purge of LGBT people in Chechnya began with the arrest of someone who works with the prominent gay social media group VKontakte. It’s believed his arrest led to a database of other gay men in the North Caucasus region.

state department chechnya pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Igor Kochetkov of the Russian LGBT Network told the Associated Press, “Widespread detentions, torture and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya. Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped. It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

Here’s the official statement by the U.S. State Department:

We are deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya about renewed attacks against individuals perceived to be members of the LGBTI community. Civil society groups report that at least 40 individuals have been illegally detained since December, including two who reportedly died in custody after being tortured.

We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, and launch an immediate investigation into these human rights abuses.

We also urge the Russian Federation to ensure that the rights of all human rights defenders are fully respected in Chechnya, and those illegally detained, including Oyub Titiev, be immediately released.

On Dec. 13, a report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights — a committee representing 16 member nations — confirmed not only that unspeakable atrocities were taking place in Chechnya, but that Russia had been turning a blind eye, thus offering its tacit approval of the abuse, torture and murders.

What do you think of the response by the U.S. State Department? Is it enough?

Featured image courtesy of Moscow Times / Valery Matytsin / TASS