Missing gay Chechen refugee says he was lying about abuse

‘They disgraced me before the Chechen people and the Chechen leader. I was framed’

Many are still concerned about the treatment of Russia’s LGBT community. This year has seen numerous reports of state supported violence in Chechnya, including encouraged honour killings, detaining and touring gay men.

A gay Chechen refugee, Movsar Eskerhanov, mysteriously disappeared for months, but has resurfaced to apologise for “disgracing” the public. He claimed the ordeal had been a media set up and that his coming out happened under the influence of his epilepsy medication.

However, this u-turn comes just after an interview with Time magazine where he expressed concern for his life. He told the publication he had been threatened and blackmailed.

Eskerhanov had asked for asylum in Germany where he stayed in one of the refugee camps there. He was reportedly attacked by other Chechens who recognised him and eventually denied asylum.

The TV report described Eskerhanov as “mentally ill” and said his claim for asylum on the grounds of homosexuality were a lie.

He told Grozny TV: “They disgraced me before the Chechen people and the Chechen leader, I was framed. That’s why I apologise to the residents of Chechnya, the leadership of Chechnya, the Chechens living in the North Caucasus and Europe.”

Critics have drawn attention to the behaviour of the Chechen president who has previously shamed those who criticised him on television, forcing them to give false apologies. Ramzan Kadyrov called gay people “devils” who “are not people” in a previous TV interview

The first man to publicly speak out about his kidnap and torture was 30-year-old Maxim Lapunov, who spoke at a press conference in October. He claimed he was kidnapped, detained and tortured over a period of time by Chechen authorities. He detailed that he was kept in a bloody cell for 12 days and tortured for names of other gay men and any sexual partners.

Since the horrors of Chechnya emerged in the last months, countries like Canada and France have offered asylum to refugees fearing for their lives because of their sexuality. Russia was forced into an investigation, but nothing has come of it.

Human Rights campaigners have called for information on LGBT singer Zelimkhan Bakaev, who went missing back in August.