16 Countries Probe Russia For Answers Over Chechnya’s Gay Purge

Ireland among 16 countries calling for Russia to take action over Chechnya’s gay purge.

Protestors holding signs protesting Chechnya's treatment of LGBT+ people.
Image: Jon Cornejo

16 major countries, including Ireland, have called upon Russia to take action over anti-LGBT+ persecution in Chechnya. Ireland joined Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the USA as part of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). They have given Russia ten days to respond to their call for action over what has been called Chechnya’s “gay purge”. 

The 16 countries have invoked the Vienna Mechanism, which allows OSCE members to hold other OSCE members accountable over human rights issues in their countries.

Chechnya, which is part of the Russian Federation, has been the location of an anti-gay purge since February 2017. Reports suggest that over 100 men and 12 women perceived as being LGBT+ have been abducted, imprisoned and tortured. Further reports suggest that several men have died while being held in what human rights’ groups have called concentration camps. At least 114 LGBT+ people and their families have left the region. 

Chechen leader Ramzon Kadyrov has denied the persecution, as well as the existence of LGBT+ members of Chechen society saying “you cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist”.

In their statement, the 16 countries have called Russia’s response to the crisis “inadequate”, saying “Our countries continue to be deeply concerned about serious human rights violations and abuses in Chechnya. The Russian Federation’s apparent unwillingness or inability to address these serious human rights violations has contributed to a climate of impunity for authorities in Chechnya in perpetrating such violations”.

The countries have given Russia ten days to respond to the following questions:

  1. What steps have been taken by the federal authorities to ensure Chechen officials abide by the Russian Federation’s OSCE commitments?
  2. How have Russian federal authorities investigated allegations of violations and abuses reportedly committed against actual or perceived LGBTI persons, and how have they arrived at the conclusion (as repeated by Russian authorities) that no such violations or abuses have occurred and that no LGBTI persons exist in Chechnya?
  3. What steps have been taken by the federal authorities to ensure the ability of civil society and media actors to freely document and report, without reprisal, on human rights concerns in Chechnya, in particular, the human rights organization, Memorial?
  4. How have Russian federal authorities investigated the fate of each of the 27 individuals who were reportedly extrajudicially executed by Chechen authorities in Grozny in January 2017?

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