Five top members of Ramzan Kadyrov's government in Chechnya may finally be brought to justice for their roles in the state-sanctioned "gay purge" that began in 2017. According to a report in The Guardian, general prosecutors in German have filed a 97-page charging document against five leading Chechan officials including deputy prime minister Abuzayed Vismuradov, police chief Ayub Katayev, and Chechen parliament chair Magomed Daudov. Kadyrov was not presently reported among the five charged, according to reporters for The Guardian that have seen portions of the charging document.
The charges were brought in a German court because the law there allows for the prosecution of crimes against humanity if other efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice have failed. A criminal complaint filed in the international criminal court in 2017 went nowhere because Russia had withdrawn from the court and was no longer subject to its jurisdiction. Russian authorities also claimed to have conducted an investigation but closed the case saying there were no crimes to be found.
All five Chechan leaders charged were allegedly involved with the arrests, detentions, abuse, and torture of members of the LGBTQ+ community in the territory. The atrocities and realities of attacks on queers in the semi-autonomous Russian region were shown in David France's HBO documentary Welcome to Chechnya. The film showed the purge in graphic detail, and contained disturbing videos showing gangs of men brutally attacking people they suspect are LGBTQ+. The gangs record themselves assaulting the innocent victims, sometimes even committing rape, then upload the popular video to the internet. The documentary also detailed the dentions at the hands of the state.
Kadyrov has been unabashed and outspoken in his bigotry and homophobia. He said he wanted gays "eliminated" in time for Ramadan in 2017, and described LGBTQ+ people as a plot by foreigners and having "non-traditional orientation" who did not belong in his country.
"In Chechen society, there is no such thing as nontraditional orientation: our people have for millennia lived by different rules prescribed by God Almighty and dictated by the moral and ethical norms of inter-personal relations," Kadyrov said at the time. "We have never had them among us Chechens."
Kadyrov was finally sanctioned for his actions by the United States last year. Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was "extensive credible information" showing Kadyrov was "responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back more than a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings."
Russia recently returned two gay men who had escaped detention and alleged abuse at the hands of Chechen security forces back to those same forces. Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev had allegedly been tortured for their activism, and were able to escape to safety in neighboring Russia. Witnesses later reported police raided their apartment and took them into custody. Police initially denied involvement, but later admitted to returning the two across the border.
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