Russia’s acting Justice Miniser, Alexander Konovalov. | Photo: UN
When pushed about the torture and execution of gay men in Chechnya, Russia said gays don’t exist there, so there can’t be any violence against them.
Russia faced the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during the week. The UPR is a review of the human rights records of UN member states.
Acting Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov represented Russia at the review. He told the HRC Chechnya has not committed any atrocities against gay people, because they don’t exist there.
‘The investigations that we carried out… did not confirm evidence of rights’ violations, nor were we even able to find representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya,’ he told the HRC.
‘Please, help us do this and find them,’ he said.
Torture and execution in ‘gay concentration camps’
Chechnya is located in the North Caucasus and is a federal subject of Russia. Chechens dispute Russia’s rule over them and terrorists have carried out a number of attacks in major Russian cities.
In early 2017, Russian news site Novaya Gazeta, revealed Chechen authorities had been rounding up suspected gay men. The men were detained at ‘concentration camps’, tortured and in some cases, executed.
Konovalov’s comments follow on from Chechen President’s Ramzan Kadyrov’s comments that ‘Chechnya does not have any gay people’.
News of the atrocities against gay men has attracted international condemnation and pressure on Russia to end the persecution.
Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to investigate the crimes, but advocacy groups say nothing has been done.
The Russia LGBT Network has even gone as far to say, Russia’s lack of action against the atrocities has sent a message to society and caused an increase in homophobic attacks.
‘The government has not responded clearly to condemn the violence and we can see how that could be inspiration for homophobic groups,’ the Russia LGBT Network’s chairperson, Mikhail Tumasov, told Gay Star News.
‘It’s important that for the government to say clearly, that LGBT people are a social group and they should be protected.
‘Then such people (homophobes) would follow their example.’