News of the Day: 6 February 2021

The Moscow Times: Two gay men seized near Moscow this week and sent back to their native Chechnya, a region accused of brutal persecution against homosexuality, face “mortal danger,” a rights group said Saturday. The LGBT Network rights group helped the two Chechen men, Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev, flee Chechnya for Nizhny Novgorod east of Moscow in June last year after they were reportedly tortured by Chechen special police. The two men were detained for unknown reasons in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday and have been sent back to the North Caucasus region, the group said in a statement. LGBT Network spokesman Tim Bestsvet said the men were detained by the FSB domestic intelligence agency and had arrived at a police station in Chechen town of Gudermes on Saturday.

RFE/RL: The Russian LGBT Network has warned that two young gay men from Chechnya who were seized in Nizhny Novgorod and driven by car back to the North Caucasus region face “mortal danger.” The Russian NGO reported on its Telegram channel on February 6 that Salekh Magamadov, 18, and a 17-year-old companion had arrived at a police station in Gudermes after being detained by Federal Security Service (FSB) officers earlier this week. The reason for their detentions in Nizhny Novgorod remains unknown, the LGBT Network reported on its website, adding that one of its lawyers was not being granted access to the detainees prior to their interrogation. RFE/RL is not revealing the identity of the second man because he is a minor.

RFE/RL: The head of Telegram has said that the popular messaging app has blocked several channels that posted the telephone numbers and addresses of people working for and against anti-government protests in Russia. Writing on his own Telegram channel on February 5, Pavel Durov said that the channels in question contained information not only about participants in recent nationwide demonstrations, but also “judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, as well as journalists and media managers.” Many of the messages called for attacks against those targeted, which Durov said violated Telegram’s policies prohibiting the incitement of violence.

RFE/RL: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has completed his three-day trip to Moscow amid criticism of Russia’s response to anti-government protests. The European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a February 6 press release that Borrell addressed a number of issues with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, including the “deteriorating human rights situation in Russia and the deliberate attempts to silence critical voices, NGOs, and civil society.” Borrell reiterated the European Union’s “strong condemnation of the recent sentencing of Aleksei Navalny, which followed his illegal detention and assassination attempt by a chemical nerve agent on Russian soil.” Borrell repeated calls by Brussels for the opposition politician’s “immediate and unconditional release” The EU official also “strongly condemned” Russia’s February 5 decision to expel three diplomats from EU states for allegedly participating in anti-government rallies held after Navalny was jailed upon his return from months of treatment abroad for his nearly fatal poisoning. The opposition politician and anti-corruption activist has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering the assassination attempt. Borrell rejected the allegations that the diplomats from Sweden, Germany, and Poland had conducted activities incompatible with their status, and called on Moscow to reconsider the decision.

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