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The Chechen Government Is Reportedly Kidnapping And Murdering Gay Men

These are the people we cheered on as they fought the disintegrating Soviet Union, just as we supported the mujahidin in Afghanistan against them during the 80s and we actually bombed their ally, Serbia, in their struggle with the Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims after the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 90s. Russia has been struggling against Islamic expansion in the Caucasus for centuries. I am convinced that Russia sees the current Islamic revival as an existential threat and really does desire a grand Western alliance against it. That is why they favor candidates in the US and Europe who most clearly identify and seek to counter the threat.

Hayes Brown writes in Buzzfeed:

Local authorities in Chechnya are behind the disappearance of more than 100 gay men from across the Muslim-majority republic, a Russian newspaper reported on Saturday.

The revelation came from Novaya Gazeta, a privately owned newspaper known for its investigations. A broad range of men have been taken into custody, according to the newspaper, including two local television personalities. At least three have been killed, the paper claimed, though it was withholding the names of the victims.

The author of the article wrote that she confirmed the disappearances from sources in "the Interior Ministry of the Chechen Republic, inside the federal government, the FSB [domestic intelligence] Department for Chechnya, the Chechen prosecutor's office, and finally local LGBT activists."

An atmosphere of anti-gay feeling has been stewing in Chechnya since early March, Noveya Gazeta reported. It was then that Moscow-based gay rights group launched an effort to apply for permits to stage gay rights rallies across Russia. The effort was doomed to fail, according to Nikolai Alexeyev, the project's organizer, but the denied permits were being collected for submission to the European Court of Human Rights as evidence that gay rights are being suppressed within Russia.

The decision to include Kabardino-Balkaria, another Muslim-majority republic in the northern Caucuses, in the effort drew protest after it was reported in the local media and sparked the current round of disappearances in Chechnya.

According to Noveya Gazeta, the Chechen police regard the operation as "preventive mopping up" of undesirable figures.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov operates Chechnya devoid of much constraint from the federal government provided he keeps the region, which attempted to gain its independence in the 1990s, loyal to Moscow. He's managed to do just that in three ways: using federal money to rebuild the mostly destroyed capital city, Grozny; embracing traditional local customs to help co-opt potential extremists, such as making wearing hijabs mandatory for women in public places; and engaging in accused human rights abuses to keep the population in line.

Following the publication of Novaya Gazeta's article, Chechnya's government has gone beyond denying that the men had gone missing — it rebutted the idea that there were gay men in Chechnya in the first place.

“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov told Interfax. “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

Karimov was alluding to the idea that in the deeply conservative republic, relatives of some of the gay men arrested would perform an "honor killing" to rid themselves of their shame. Novaya Gazeta speculated that some of the gay men detained were released not for lack of evidence, but on the hope that their families would do just that...

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