Week-ending 12 February 2021
On 6 February 2021 the Russian LGBT Network reported that two gay men abducted in Nizhny Novgorod had been brought to Gudermes in Chechnya by FSB officers. The Guardian reported that the Chechen authorities had opened a terrorism investigation against the two men. In a Joint Statement, eight leading human rights organisations – Amnesty International, Centre for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, Civic Assistance, Civil Rights Defenders, Committee Against Torture, Human Rights Watch, Memorial Human Rights Centre, Norwegian Helskinki Committee – expressed ‘grave concern over reports that two Chechen men were arbitrarily detained by the police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod and forcibly transferred to Chechnya’ and ‘are at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment and there is a risk to their lives.’ The organisations demanded that ‘the Russian authorities should immediately establish their whereabouts, ensure their safety and secure their release unless they are charged with internationally recognisable criminal offence.’
The Guardian, 8 February 2021: Chechnya has opened a terrorism investigation into two gay men who fled the region last year but were arrested near Moscow last week and forcibly returned. The rights group that helped the men escape Chechnya, an autonomous Russian republic where the torture, detentions and killings of gay men have been reported since 2017, said they weren’t certain why exactly the men were being persecuted but that one of them had earlier been interrogated for sharing LGBTQ emojis in an online group.
Amnesty International, 9 February 2021: We, the undersigned, express our grave concern over reports that two Chechen men were arbitrarily detained by the police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod and forcibly transferred to Chechnya. The Russian authorities should immediately establish their whereabouts, ensure their safety and secure their release unless they are charged with internationally recognisable criminal offence. The men are at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment and there is a risk to their lives.
The Moscow Times, 6 February 2021: 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, 6 February 2021: 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.