‘No Surnames’: Top Russian Diplomat Sergei Lavrov Denies Verified Report of Torture of Gay Men in Chechnya


'There Is Not a Single Concrete Fact, There Are No Surnames'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is officially denying at least one verified report of the torture of dozens of gay men in Chechnya, in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation. Human Rights Watch last week published new report verifying the detention and torture of gay men in Chechen concentration camps, while the journalist who broke the story in Novaya Gazeta documented cases of not only detention and torture but killings by the government in Chechnya, a small repressive republic headed by Ramzan Kadyrov.

"We don't see one concrete fact," Lavrov said, according to the UK's Independent, "on the issue of accusations of rights abuses of LGBT representatives in Chechnya or other parts of the Russian federation."

"There is not a single concrete fact, there are no surnames," Lavrov said, in a statement that vaguely echoes President Donald Trump's attacks on anonymous sources. "If there are facts, if there are surnames, then our answers will be concrete."

"But I repeat that we have no relation to the overwhelming majority of the allegations," Lavrov said.

It is easy for the Russian Foreign Minister to demand "surnames," when he knows anyone stepping forward is asking for a death sentence.

Lavrov also invited French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel to visit Chechnya to confirm his claims:

"It is not right to accuse the Russian media of slander while your opinion is based on false information," he said in a post on his Telegram account.

"[Emmanuel] Macron may take [Angela] Merkel with him and come to the Chechen Republic to find out the truth. Our door is open."

The Kremlin also denied reports of the detention, torture, and murder of gay men in April.

"Law enforcement and security agencies under Kadyrov's de facto control have abducted people from homes, work places, and the streets, held them in secret locations, and carried out enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial executions, and collective punishment practices," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in their report.

RELATED: Journalist Who Broke Chechnya's 'Gay Concentration Camp' Story To Flee Russia Following Threats

One gay man described one of the methods of torture he experienced: "They turn the knob, electric current hits you, and you start shaking," he said. "And they keep turning the hellish machine, and the pain is just insane. You scream and scream and you no longer know who you are."

As NCRM has reported, the Trump administration Department of State is refusing U.S. visas to dozens of gay men from Chechnya seeking to flee Russia after the wave of kidnappings, torture, and murders of gay men.

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Image by UN Geneva via Flickr and a CC license 

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