The Chechnya and Russian Nightmare

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A small group of activists march a 20 meter Rainbow Flag 600 meters down the streets of Moscow, Russia
A small group of activists march a 20 meter Rainbow Flag 600 meters down the streets of Moscow, Russia
Commentary

No doubt channeling the late Adolph Hitler, President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, has established what amounts to concentration camps for gays, filling them with brutal sweeps and raids, torturing victims to extract more names and seizing cell phones to access address books. At least 100 LGBT persons have been arrested so far, and some have died in the camps. In spite of Chechnyan denials, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have verified the reports.

Let's be perfectly clear about one thing: nothing happens in Chechnya that isn't approved by the Kremlin says Toby Grace
“Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing: nothing happens in Chechnya that isn’t approved by the Kremlin,” says Toby Grace

Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing: nothing happens in Chechnya that isn’t approved by the Kremlin. After over 10 years of all-out war beginning in 1991, that left much of the state in ruins, and the capitol city of Grozny leveled, Russia defeated Chechnyan separatists and renewed firm control. Vladimir Putin established direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000. In June, Putin appointed Akhmad Kadyrov interim head of the new pro-Moscow government.

The 2003 Constitution granted the Chechen Republic a significant degree of autonomy, but still tied it firmly to Russia and Moscow’s rule. Akhmad Kadyrov was assassinated by a bomb blast in 2004. Since December 2005, his son Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the pro-Moscow militia known as kadyrovtsy, has been Chechnya’s de facto ruler

Kadyrov and his faction are militant Islamic fundamentalists. At first glance this might seem like a strange alliance for Putin to foster, but in the complex, multi-layered diplomacy of this highly unstable region it is not without reason. Chechnya is a conservative Muslim area. By supporting the Kadyrov faction Putin goes far to tamp down the fires of separatism. Even more important, he sends a message to Islamists in the Middle East that Russia can be their friend.

This sudden attack on gays then should be seen as a brutal form of play-acting for the benefit and reassurance of Islamic fundamentalists in Syria, Iran and elsewhere. It shows that, while Putin is not Muslim, he is “on their side.” The expense of a few hundred easily disposable gays is negligible in Putin’s eyes, and the benefits could be far ranging.

Baroness Anelay of the British Foreign Office issued a statement condemning this callous persecution, as did the U.S. State Department. Both statements called on the Russians to investigate and hold the guilty accountable. The Kremlin denied all knowledge, and Kadyrov stated there were no gays in Chechnya. He also said, if there were, the police wouldn’t have to bother about them because their own families would kill them.

Nothing will be done about this.

Protests from distant governments mean nothing to either Kadyrov or Putin — especially when one of those governments (our own) is run by as dedicated a crew of gay-haters as Pence, Sessions and Carson. Putin understands any protest from Washington is pro-forma only.

Meanwhile, the round-ups go on. Gay boys and girls are tortured and killed. Lives are destroyed. The best use to which we can put our own bitterness and anger is to resist the eroding of our rights here in the U.S., and support efforts to raise funds to help in getting those at risk out of Chechnya. Such on-line efforts are being made, and remembering that although we haven’t met them, these are our LGBT brothers and sisters, we have to do what we can to help.

Editors note: There is a local New Jersey activist that sent this message to Out In Jersey:

Rainbow Railroad is desperately struggling to liberate gay and bisexual men from what can only be described as modern day Concentration Camps and provide them with asylum in Canada. Please donate what you can which gives them the finances needed for legal services, airfare, and temporary housing. If you cannot donate then please share. This goes out to all the hot men out there with 50k+ followers. Use your pecs for a good cause and repost! After the Holocaust everyone asked, “How did the world standby and do nothing?” Well, here is your chance to do something. Or will our grandkids ask the same question of us?” 

To help visit https://www.facebook.com/donate/10156049730234746/.