A Chechen fugitive who left the Russian republic has shared a harrowing account of the “gay purge” with liberal Russian magazine Snob. The report includes a story of a 17-year-old boy who was pushed off of a 9th floor balcony by his uncle, after being outed. The fugitive spoke under the condition of anonymity, but fled the region after revealing his sexuality to his mullah (local religious scholar).
The mullah responded, saying, “As a Chechen and as a man I do not want to see you here. Neither in the mosque, nor in this district. I want you to leave now, because everything you said is the most disgusting thing you can find out. I hope your relatives have the dignity to wash away your shame. Go away.”
The mullah then recounted to him the 17-year-old’s death, which was carried out by his own uncle. Family members are currently being encouraged to weed out LGBT-identifying people and “wash the shame” away of their gay relatives. If they refuse to “sort it out”, the state has promised to intervene. Gay people are reportedly being taken away and forced into concentration camps.
Alvi Karimov, a spokesperson for the Chechen government, denied the existence of any such concentration camp. “You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,” he said.
Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into the purge, but dismissed the reports of gay torture and arrests as “rumours”, saying, “Of course, I will have a talk with the general prosecutor and interior minister so they support you on the topic that you have raised on information or rumours, we might say, about what is happening to sexual minorities in the North Caucasus.”