by Leander Milbrecht
Two queer men who escaped torture in Chechnya were abducted by police in Russia and deported back to their home country. There they are currently being held, interrogated and threatened – without access to legal representation. The queer organisation Russian LGBT Network says the two are in mortal danger.
The men’s names are Salek Magamadov and Ismail Isayev – Isayev is said to be only 17 years old. On Thursday 4 February, the queer organisation reported that both men had disappeared. Around 3pm, one of the men had called the organisation’s emergency contact, who heard screaming in the background. Their lawyer, Alexander Nemov, then went to his clients’ flat and discovered traces of a struggle. He later found out that the two had been forcibly captured by Russian and Chechen police officers and taken back to Chechnya by car.
Magamadov and Isayev fled Chechnya in June 2020 after being tortured by police for running an opposition Telegram channel. LGBT Network spokesman Tim Bestsvet told The Moscow Times that the real reason the two were tortured, however, was their homosexuality. The organisation helped the two and housed them in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth largest city in Russia, which is about 400 kilometres from Moscow.
Serious human rights violations
Alexander Nemov followed his clients to Chechnya after their arrest on Thursday. He reported that he was not given any information, neither about the current whereabouts of his clients, nor about the reason for their detention. The organisation informed about the events in several updates on its website.
48 hours after their arrest, the two men reappeared on Saturday at a police station in the Chechen town of Gudermes – immediately after Isayev’s mother filed a complaint for the abduction of a minor. The men had appeared “exhausted and intimidated”, spokesman Tim Bestsvet told The Moscow Times. They had been urged to refuse legal representation. Isayev, who is a minor, cannot refuse legal representation on his own.
During the interrogation on Saturday, the two were only asked questions about meetings with several named persons. Afterwards, the two were released – only to be arrested again directly in front of the police station. They were forced into a car and taken to the Chechen village of Sernovodskoe. Again their lawyer followed them, again he was denied contact with his clients on the spot.
The two are in “mortal danger”
At the same time as Nemov, a deputy interior minister of Chechnya arrived on the scene, who, together with law enforcement officers, pressured the father of the minor Isayev to refuse Nemov’s legal assistance, according to the Russian LGBT Network. A second lawyer sent by them was also denied access to the two fugitives. He now intends to file a complaint, it said in its latest update on Sunday. The current whereabouts of Magamadov and Isayev are unknown, it said.
Bestsvet stressed to The Moscow Times that the two men were in mortal danger.
“There were cases where relatives brought people we had evacuated back to Chechnya, and then these people died or, we can say, these people were probably murdered.”
Chechnya is considered one of the most anti-gay places in the world. In the Russian republic in the North Caucasus, homosexuals have been systematically persecuted, taken to concentration camps and murdered time and again (we reported). Most recently, in September 2020, the torture of a 19-year-old became known: He had been forced by the queer-hostile tyrant Ramzan Kadyrov and his henchmen to strip naked and defile himself with a bottle in front of the camera (we reported). The reason for this was his criticism of the Chechen leader on an anti-government Telegram channel. It is not known whether this is the same channel that Magamadov and Isayev operated.
- 1167px-Vladimir_Putin_with_Ramzan_Kadyrov_(2018-06-15)_01: By Kremlin.ru / CC BY 4.0 / wikimedia.org
- tschetschenien: Screenshot
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