A gay Russian man who lived in Chechnya was accosted by plainclothes officers, detained and tortured in March this year for almost two weeks with his abusers accusing him of being gay.
Maxim Lapunov came forward yesterday to give his testimony after Russian authorities disregarded reports of a state-sanctioned ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya and declared that there was no factual basis for such allegations.
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow hosted by Novaya Gazeta, the local newspaper which first broke the news of the abuse of gay men in Chechnya, Lapunov disclosed how he was abducted, beaten and made to fear for his life.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has continually denied the reports of a gay purge, indicating that they can’t be true because he claims there are no gay people in Chechnya.
Covered In Blood
The thirty-year-old told of how plainclothes officers accosted him in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, and brought to a police station where he was kept in a cellar for twelve days, beaten and threatened with the loss of his life for being gay.
“The main accusation against me was that I’m gay,” Lapunov, who had lived in Chechnya for two years, said. “[Police] would shout that I’m gay, that people like me should be killed.”
The cell’s floor was just covered in blood
“Then they beat me with a stick for a long time: in the legs, ribs, buttocks and back. When I started to fall, they pulled me up and carried on,” he said.
The Russian spoke of being thrown into a cell that was “covered in blood”, reports SBS.
“The cell was around two by two metres and about a quarter of the floor was just covered in blood – it was quite fresh blood.”
“Based on their words and their actions, I thought that after a certain time they would kill me in any case.”
Lapunov was eventually released by the police after his family reported him missing and his friends plastered posters across Grozny, reports The BBC.
“I could barely crawl when I left.”
Change Is Needed
Lapunov has decried the heinous violation of human rights that has been happening in Chechnya in recent times advising that such crimes against humanity could happen in any country.
“It should not be like this. We are all people. We all have rights,” he said.
“If those rights can be violated [in Chechnya], it could happen in any region. And no one knows whose son or daughter will be next.”
Lapunov is the first person to make a formal complaint with Russian authorities about the gay purge in Chechnya, making it unclear how the superpower will now respond.
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