Two men have spoken out about the torture they endured for being gay in Chechnya, where they claim they were beaten, electrocuted and abused by police before fleeing the country.
The men, who were granted anonymity over fears of reprisal, gave Reuters accounts of their horrific ordeals at the hands of the authorities.
One of the men described being beaten by police after he refused to hand over the names of other gay men he knew, only escaping further torture after telling the authorities he was related to a policeman. He was taken to his family, and was then handcuffed to a radiator before his sister helped him escape.
"There was only one thing left to do: to get rid of me,” he said. “Because it was such a shame for a military family, for a rather big family. We [in Chechnya] have only one way to resolve this.”
The other man told the newswire, which said it could not verify the men’s accounts, he and several male friends were pulled over by police in February while driving to the capital city Grozny.
He said his friend was beaten by police who asked him if he was “a faggot.”
"Then they...forced me to tie a cable to my little toe and to my little finger. I was forced to do it myself, to attach the wires. And then they started using electric shocks,” he told Reuters.
Human Rights Watch has described similar occurrences in its report on the situation in Chechnya, where men suspected of being gay have been rounded up and held against their will, and then subject to torture and starvation while under questioning.
“Men subjected to these gay purges have endured a gruesome ordeal in Chechnya,” said Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch. “The Kremlin has a duty to bring to justice those responsible for the violence and protect all people in Russia, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is backed by Moscow, has claimed there are no such attacks on gay men. A spokesman for Kadyrov told Reuters such attacks could not take place because there are no gay men in Chechnya.