Brothers who fled Chechnya arrested, returned to homeland

Chechnya, gay news, Washington Blade
Grozny, Chechnya. (Photo by Alexxx1979; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The State Department has expressed concern over the fate of two brothers from Chechnya who were arrested in Russia and returned to their homeland from which they fled.

are troubled by reports of two Chechen siblings in the LGBTQI+ community who
were detained in Russia and returned to Chechnya on dubious ‘terrorism’
charges,” tweeted
spokesperson Ned Price, who is openly gay, on Tuesday. “They reported
torture during a previous detention, and we worry they may face additional

The Russian LGBT Network says police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod on Feb. 4 arrested Salekh Magamadov, 20, and Ismail Isteyev, 17. ABC News reports local police transferred the brothers to the custody of Chechen authorities who brought them to Gudermes, a town that is outside the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Chechnya is a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus. The anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya — which includes arrests, torture and even killings — has sparked outrage around the world.

The Russian LGBT Network says Chechen authorities in April 2020 arrested Magamadov and Isteyev after they made a series of posts on Osal Nakh 95, a Telegram channel used by opponents of Chechen President Raman Kadyrov, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Chechen authorities forced Magamadov
and Isteyev to record what the Russian LGBT Network describes as “apology
videos” after they were tortured. The Russian LGBT Network helped
Magamadov and Isteyey flee Chechnya in June 2020 after their release.

“Welcome to
Chechnya,” a documentary that highlights the Russian LGBT Network’s
efforts to help LGBTQ Chechens flee their homeland, featured the brothers’

“We spoke out on that
case because, of course, we are profoundly concerned,” Price on Wednesday
told reporters during his daily briefing at the State Department. “We know
of the persecution that the LGBTQI community has faced in Chechnya, and this
administration will speak out, speak out forcefully on their behalf both in
Chechnya and around the world.”

Price also noted last week’s presidential
that says the U.S. will promote LGBTQ rights abroad.

“The president
put forward a presidential memorandum making clear that the policy of the
United States government is to protect and to promote and defend the rights of
LGBTQI people around the world,” he said. “It is the policy with that
presidential memorandum now in force to firmly oppose abuses against the LGBTQI
persons, and we urge governments to repeal laws that criminalize individuals on
the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”

Former U.S. Ambassador
to the U.N. Nikki Haley and former State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert
are among those in the Trump administration who publicly condemned the
anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya. Former President Trump, for his part, did

“Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev are in grave danger in Chechnya,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Freedom House’s Europe and Eurasia programs, on Tuesday in a press release. “Freedom House demands the two should immediately be examined by independent health professionals and receive unfettered access to their lawyers per the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.”

Published at Wed, 10 Feb 2021 23:57:40 +0000

Source: Brothers who fled Chechnya arrested, returned to homeland