‘Any day you can be taken’: Inside what it’s like to be gay in Chechnya

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10/25/2019

Ricky was just 19 when he said the police came for him. He was at work and they took him to the local police station. From there he said they took him somewhere else, placing a bag over his head. “At first, they were just beating me. They punched me and then [they] used electric shock. They did waterboarding, which was the worst,” he said of his alleged torture in mid-2018. The cause of Ricky’s detention, he said, was he had been filmed with two gay friends discussing LGBT issues. It took place in mid-July 2018. In early 2017, the world became aware of reports that Chechen authorities were rounding up and torturing dozens of men they suspected of being gay, in what came to be known as a “gay purge.” Over 100 men were reported by rights groups to have been swept up by the security services and taken to police stations and secret prisons. From there, multiple accounts emerged describing beatings with plastic rods and electrocution. Rights groups have since reported several suspected deaths.

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