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ramon kadyrov and magomed daudov
Ramon Kadyrov, Head of Chechen Republic, and Magomed Daudov, accused of abusing gay men in Chechnya@lord_095 via Instagram

Chechen politician was present during the torture of gay men

Human Rights Watch reports that Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, verbally abused men and prisoners repeatedly named him as present

Human Rights Watch has released its report on the gay purge in Chechnya. According to the investigation, the mass abductions and torture began with the approval of Magomed Daudov, the speaker of the Chechen parliament, who had been told once the first men were detained and their phones checked for contacts of other gay men.

Most of the former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch confirmed hearing the police who held and abused them refer to Daudov and to orders he allegedly issued about violence against gay men. Human Rights Watch reports that three of the interviewed detainees witnessed his presence at detention sites in Argun and Grozny.

Novaya Gazeta, a leading independent newspaper that initially broke the news also repeatedly reported about Daudov's visits to the unofficial prison. One of the victims speaking to Human Rights Watch described the following:

“It was like a chain. They get one person, go through his phone, torture him, make him name some others, get those others, and so it goes… In the place where I was held, we were four [gay men] at first, but several days later we were already 20. At night, when we were left alone, I tried to convince the new arrivals to buck up, deny everything, not name anyone. I kept telling them that the more people we name, the more information we give, the longer we’ll spend in this hell hole, the longer we’ll be tortured… I was telling them, can’t you see, those who talk are tortured even harder… But the torture was bad – the beatings, and the electric shocks especially – very few could bear it without breaking”.

“The torture was bad – the beatings, and the electric shocks especially – very few could bear it without breaking” – Anonymous gay Chechen

The official federal investigation into the mass abductions and torture of gay men in Chechnya is now underway. This week it was also reported that the unofficial prison in Chechnya – where it was reported over 100 men had been taken in Chechnya’s “gay purge” – was destroyed and relocated to an unconfirmed location.

According to the Novayga Gazeta, when a Russian investigative team arrived at the site detailed by former inmates and in the press, it was found to be abandoned and covered in construction debris. The new camp is reportedly at a Special Police Force training base in Terek, 60km north of the former site, in Argun. It is thought all of the prisoners have been moved to the base. However, upon traveling to the new site, the team was turned away by authorities after being told “training is taking place”.