In the last few months, global attention has been focused on the torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya.
A new and extremely comprehensive report was released by the Russian LGBT Network, an activism and advocacy group with offices located throughout Russia. The report outlines horrific violations of human rights; including tales of gay Chechen men being beaten, electrocuted, interrogated, murdered, and raped with barbed wire.
As Americans it may be hard for us to wrap our heads around the severity of the situation, and to comprehend how this instance of genocide began. Following the theme of literally all of history, much of the blame falls on the fragile masculinity of one white man in power.
After a terrorist bombing killed his father, Ramzan Kadyrov was appointed to serve as deputy prime minister of Chechnya. The year was 2004, and the Chechen republic was broken. After having survived several years of civil war and repeated terrorist attacks (perpetuated by both the Russian government and rebel groups), Kadyrov set out with a seemingly noble goal: to fix the decimated infrastructure.
He used blood money to do it.
Putin gave Ramzan a form of political immunity, allowing him to employ whatever means he chose to squash Chechen opposition to the Russian government, mainly in the form of eradicating extremist Muslim groups who wished to secede from the Republic.
Kadyrov agreed to attack these radical, violent groups, and in return the Russian federal government came up with vast amounts of money for his reconstruction project, some of which, according to Radio Free Europe, was kept by Kadyrov for his own personal use.
According to the report released by the Russian LGBT Network, Kadyrov used violence to suppress and exterminate separatist groups, leading to an overall decline in opposition to his regime. After having accomplished his disgusting goal, Kadyrov set his sites on a new form of extermination—launching a campaign to appeal to the extremely conservative values of the Chechen people.
In 2013, six years into his presidency, Kadyrov and his police force went after local Salafi Muslims, rounding up men who fit stereotypical depictions and throwing them in detention centers. Shortly after their release, the detention centers were again filled with bodies—this time belonging to Chechens accused of consuming alcohol or drugs.
These people were beaten in the name of cleansing them—allowing them to return to society on a new, state-led, “moral” path. The report explains that, “On the date of the release, the police officers forced the inmates to line up in front of their relatives, and then subjected them to verbal abuse and public humiliation.”
The report further explains that religious leaders and even Kadyrov often attended these events, which were sometimes televised. It becomes easy to see how the villainization and downright murder of different groups of people is used for Kadyrov’s personal political gain.
In recent years, we've seen Kadyrov’s henchman targeting groups in new ways.
Authorities set up fake accounts on gay dating sites. Meetings are arranged, and innocent men are met with violent groups of militarized police. Other times, men will get a call from a random number telling them they are in trouble with the police, only to have their homes stormed seconds later.
Still, these are the pleasant part of the stories.
If you wish to read the detailed accounts of abuse, personal testimonies are included in the aforementioned report. Kadyrov is just another global figurehead who has built an empire based on abuse of power, manipulation of facts, and inducing fear into innocent people.
He has called for the murder of gay men after refuting their very existence.
He must be stopped.