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Rights Group of the Week: Russian LGBT Network

posted 26 Jun 2017, 11:07 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 Jun 2017, 11:18 ]
On 20 June 2017 Caucasian Knot reported that, according to the Russian LGBT Network, since 1 April 2017 the organization has enabled over 50 LGBT people to leave Chechnya, 12 of whom have already left Russia. Since 1 April, Caucasian Knot reports, more than 100 gays have applied for help to the Russian LGBT Network. A staff member of the Russian LGBT Network told Caucasian Knot: "Almost all of them are from Chechnya. There are only two or three persons from other regions of the Caucasus. With our efforts, we transported out of the region a little more than 50 people who complained about persecution because of their sexual orientation, 12 of them have already left Russia." The spokesperson said that she believes that all LGBT people who were taken out of Chechnya "should finally leave the territory of Russia" since "in Russia, their safety will not be ensured."

On 1 April 2017 Novaya gazeta reported that over 100 gay men have been brutally detained — and at least three killed — in Chechnya. On 2 April 2017 the Russian LGBT Network issued a statement on the reports: "The Russian LGBT Network is highly disturbed and concerned about the information on the kidnapping and killing of people in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation. We are also outraged by the reaction of the officials of the Chechen Republic, who in fact justify the killings. No national and/or religious traditions and norms can justify kidnapping or killing of a human being. Any references to “traditions” to justify kidnappings and killings are amoral and criminal [read the statement in full HERE]"

Matthew Kupfer, writing in The Moscow Times, stated that "the crackdown seemed like something out of the Stalinist-era repressions." Igor Kochetkov, a board member and former chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, is quoted in the article as describing the scope of the detentions as "unprecedented". He told The Moscow Times: "We are under the impression that this is a special operation to capture gays.” The Moscow Times noted, "The Russian LGBT Network has set up a hotline for LGBT people in the North Caucasus and is actively working to evacuate individuals in danger from the region." 

Citing Novaya gazeta, on 3 April 2017 Caucasian Knot said that a 'secret prison' for the detention of LGBT people was located in the city of Argun, Chechnya. On 5 April 2017 Caucasian Knot reported that the Russian LGBT Network had offered to assist with the evacuation of LGBT people from Chechnya. Caucasian Knot wrote: "The data on persecutions of homosexuals in Chechnya need investigators’ verification, the 'Russian LGBT-network' has stated. The organization is ready to help the victims, before they are evacuated from Chechnya."  On 5 April 2017, Tom Balmforth wrote on the RFE/RL website that the Russian LGBT Network had received more than 10 appeals for help from homosexuals in Chechnya seeking to flee the southern Russian republic. 

The Russian LGBT Network is an NGO founded in 2006 that works to promote the rights of LGBT people in Russia. 

'Over 50 Chechen gays get help from "Russian LGBT Network",' Caucasian Knot, 20 June 2017
'Statement of the Russian LGBT Network’s Board regarding the information on the kidnappings and murders of LGBT People in the North Caucasus,' Rights in Russia, 2 April 2017 [original source: Facebook]
' "Russian LGBT-network" offers to evacuate gays from Chechnya,' Caucasian Knot, 3 April 2017
'Fifteen LGBTs ask evacuation from Chechnya, Caucasian Knot, 5 April 2017
Tom Balmforth, 'Homosexuals Appeal For Help Fleeing Chechnya Amid Allegations Of Antigay Campaign,' RFE/RL, 5 April 2017 
Matthew Kupfer, 'Detained, Tortured, Killed: How Chechnya Cracked Down on Gays,' The Moscow Times, 6 April 2017
'Rights Group of the Week: Russian LGBT Network,' Rights in Russia, 10 April 2017

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