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Saturday 08 April 2017

The Chechnya LGBTI Crisis

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 4th April 2017

With tales about the possible arbitrary arrest and execution of LGBT Chechen citizens, it is time to background that troubled Muslim Central-Asian province of the Republic of Russia.

Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov
Chechnya is probably best known for its bitter civil wars and insurgency against Russian occupation, which occurred in two intermittent phases: 1994-1996: 1999-2009. The autonomous Russian republic was temporarily free from Russian domination after the USSR fell apart in 1991, but control was re-established in the Second Chechen War. There was a short-lived Chechen Republic of Ichkeria between the first and second Chechen Wars, but today the territory is fragmented. One ISIS faction, the Islamic Caucusus Emirate, is carrying on Islamist armed struggle against the Russians, although most withdrew after Putin pulled Russian troops out in 2009.

Chechnya is a predominantly Sunni Muslim territory, and the two periods of civil war saw widespread collaboration between Chechnyan Islamist insurgents and the wider Sunni Muslim diaspora, which drew in ISIS affiliates from Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as well as attracting finance and propaganda from the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi monarchy. Reportedly, there are tensions between Chechen Sunni Muslims and their more Sunni fundamentalist overseas counterparts, with the former rejecting the conservative interpretation (hadith) of the Qu'ran popularised by the latter. However, over time, cobelligerency may have weakened resistance to these more conservative versions of Sunni Islam.

According to what little information is available about LGBTI rights in Chechnya, there was a brief post-Soviet liberalisation period under Dzokhar Dudyev in the early nineties when homosexuality was legal. However, under his successor, Aslan Mashkadov, there was retrenchment of this tentative legal status, with promises made about the introduction of shariah law within Chechnya as a sop to conservative Sunni Islamist allies of the anti-Russian insurgency, although there are no recorded cases of anti-gay interpretations of shariah law from the period after the turn of the century. From 2007, Ramzan Kadyrov has been the puppet Russian governor of the restive province. To placate the country's more conservative Muslim inhabitants, and apparently with permission from the Putin regime in distant Moscow, he has advocated the introduction of anti-gay elements within shariah law. In early April 2017, there were troubling reports about the Kadyrov regime's security forces abducting many Chechen gay men, aged from eighteen to sixty, and stories that three had been executed, including one sixteen year old. These claims have been made in the dissident Russian publication Novaya Gazeta and picked up in the New York Times and western LGBTI media. The regime's reply has been to denounce Novaya Gazeta and deny the presence of out gay men within Chechnya, given that Ramzan Kadyrov has supported conservative "honour killings" of "promiscuous women" and gay men, as well as enforced wearing of the hijab headcover for women and polygamy, despite also endorsing repression against relatives of the Islamic Cacusus Emirate.


"100 arrested, 3 dead as Chechen authorities launch terrifying antigay purge"Attitude UK: 03.04.2017: arrested-3-dead-as-Chechen- authorities-launch-terrifying- antigay-purge/

Trudy Ring: "Gay men reportedly being arrested and killed in the Russian Republic of Chechnya"Advocate:02.04.2017: 2017/4/02/gay-men-being- arrested-killed-russian- republic-chechnya

Craig Young - 4th April 2017

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