Chechnya opens terror inquiry into gay men forcibly returned from Moscow

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02/08/2021

Chechnya has opened a terrorism investigation into two gay men who fled the region last year but were arrested near Moscow last week and forcibly returned. The rights group that helped the men escape Chechnya, an autonomous Russian republic where the torture, detentions and killings of gay men have been reported since 2017, said they weren’t certain why exactly the men were being persecuted but that one of them had earlier been interrogated for sharing LGBTQ emojis in an online group. Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev, aged 20 and 17, were in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, when they were abducted last Thursday, according to the Russian LGBT Network. One of the men rang the network’s emergency hotline in the afternoon, and a worker for the organisation heard screaming in the background of the call. A rights lawyer who visited the flat where they were staying said he saw signs of a struggle shortly after. The two men later re-emerged in detention in Chechnya. Tim Bestsvet, a spokesperson for the LGBT Network, said lawyers were being denied access to the men and did not know where they were being held.

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