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8 Feb, 2021 19:33

Russian LGBT network says two gay men who fled Chechnya now in ‘mortal danger’ after authorities arrest them on terrorism charges

Russian LGBT network says two gay men who fled Chechnya now in ‘mortal danger’ after authorities arrest them on terrorism charges

Two gay men who last year fled Chechnya have been transferred back to their homeland and implicated in a terrorism case. Last week, they were arrested by police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod and taken to be questioned. 

According to Akhmed Dudayev, an aide to Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov, the pair allegedly confessed to aiding and abetting terrorist Rustam Borchashvili, an accomplice of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) commander Aslan Byutukayev, an insurgent killed earlier this year by the region's police.

This is not the first time the two men have been detained. In April 2020, Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev were arrested by Chechnyan police for running an opposition Telegram channel. Following their arrest, apology videos were published online, which some have claimed were forced. Two months later, they were helped by the Russian LGBT Network to flee the region and move to Nizhny Novgorod, close to Moscow. On February 4, less than a year after arriving in the city, they were detained by regional police.

“After questioning, law enforcement released Isaev and Magamadov from custody,” the network wrote on its website. “However, when exiting the police precinct in Gudermes, another group of law enforcement officers detained Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev.”

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It was then, after the second arrest, when the two men allegedly admitted to providing food to Borchashvili. According to Tim Bestsvet, the spokesman for the Russian LGBT Network, the latest confession was given when under torture and has no legal force. The network also claimed that lawyers Alexander Nemov and Mark Alexeev were refused a meeting with their arrested clients.

Speaking to news agency AFP on Saturday, Bestsvet explained that the two men were “tired and frightened,” claiming they were in “mortal danger.”

“There have been cases when relatives of those that we had evacuated brought people back to Chechnya and then these people would die or, we can say, were probably murdered,” Bestsvet claimed.

The authorities in Chechnya, a majority Muslim republic, have been accused of numerous human rights violations against its gay residents. Regional head Kadyrov has completely denied the accusations, claiming that the area doesn't have any gay people.

“We don't have those kinds of people here,” he once said.

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