Russia urged to probe ‘gay concentration camps’
Russia must investigate reports by human rights groups that dozens of men are being held and tortured in Chechnya because they are believed to be gay, the human rights arm of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said this week.
Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta has reported that at least three men have been killed in secret prisons, which have been described as “concentration camps”.
Michael Link, the head of OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said: “The authorities in Russia must urgently investigate the horrific reports of human rights violations against allegedly gay men in Chechnya, as well as identify, prosecute and punish any known perpetrators.”
A spokesperson for Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the southern Russian region of Chechnya and a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was quoted by Russia’s Interfax news agency as denying the alleged abuses.
“Nobody can detain or harass anyone who is simply not present in the republic,” Alvi Karimov was quoted as saying.
Link said: “Given the reported unwillingness of local authorities to investigate and prosecute the serious violations alleged to have been committed by security services, it is incumbent upon Russian authorities to intervene and protect all those remaining at risk.”
The Kremlin could not immediately be reached for comment on OSCE’s call for an investigation.
Previously, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he was aware of the reports about abuses against gay people in Chechnya, but that it was up to Russian law enforcement agencies to investigate, and therefore it was not an issue on the Kremlin’s agenda.