Russian mixed martial arts fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov posted a picture of himself with the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov on Instagram yesterday.
Nurmagomedov, who was born in Dagestan, the Russian region that neighbours Chechnya, is grasping hands with Kadyrov in the photo. The Russian caption translates to:
“Thank you for the hospitality of [Ramzan Kadyrov]. May the Almighty [God] protect you and the entire Chechen people.”
Nurmagomedov is a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion and the reigning undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion. Last October Nurmagomedov fought and defeated Irish fighter Conor McGregor in UFC 229 in Las Vegas.
Nurmagomedov is not the first high-profile fighter to meet with Kadyrov. The Chechen leader is allegedly a UFC fan and met with Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
Since December, violence against those perceived as being members of the LGBT+ community in Chechnya has escalated. The Russian LGBT+ Network has reported that up to 40 people have been illegally detained, while a further two have died as a result of torture.
Additionally, reports point to evidence of the sexual assault of Chechen women at the hands of guards. Witnesses have claimed that women are being raped with electric shock sticks while men have had their heads shaved and are being forced to wear women’s clothing.
Kadyrov has denied both the purge and the existence of LGBT+ people in the region. When asked about the community, Kadyrov said:
“We don’t have those kinds of people here. If they are here, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home.”
Kadyrov continued to call members of the LGBT+ community “the devils”. He added:
“They are for sale. They are not people.”
Kadyrov has also encouraged the parents of LGBT+ people to murder their children to “avoid bringing shame to their families.”
Last night, the Irish LGBT+ community and their allies gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Dublin to protest the ‘gay purge’ currently taking place in Chechnya.
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