'I Felt From All They Said and Acted They Would Kill Me in the End'
A brave gay Russian man is the first to publicly come forward and describe the horrific and sometimes deadly treatment Chechnya is inflicting on LGBT people in what is being described around the world as a "gay purge."
30-year old Maxim Lapunov of Russia moved to Chechnya on business. He says he was ordered by two plain-clothes Chechen security forces, according to The Guardian, to go with them to what he thought was a police station, where he was kept in a "blood-soaked" jail cell in the basement. For 12 days he was tortured and beaten as guards attempted to force him to name his sexual partners so they too could be abducted.
"The only charge they made was that I was gay," Lapunov said at a press conference in Moscow on Monday, as CBC news reports.
"One part of the jail cell was already blood-soaked," Lapunov told reporters. "Then they started to beat me, and every 10 to 15 minutes they would come in and yell, 'He's gay and people like him should be killed.' I felt from all they said and acted they would kill me in the end."
"They put my face to the wall. They beat me on the back of my legs and hips," Lapunov said. "I would collapse and they would give me a chance to catch my breath before telling me to get up again. And it would start again."
In this video clip from Monday's press conference, Lapunov tells reporters he was beaten so badly he "could barely even crawl."
"I want to ask the government to investigate, because we are all people and all have rights," Lapunov said Monday.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the first to break then news of Chechnya's gay purge, and reports Lapunov came forward saying, "The only thing that I would like at the moment is justice, which should happen."
CBC News notes "global human rights groups have condemned" Chechnya's gay purge "as a Nazi-like effort to rid the region of gay people."
The head of Chechnya is Ramzan Kadyrov, a "strongman" closely aligned with Vladimir Putin. His relationship to the Russian president has afforded him tremendous freedom to attack and persecute LGBT people.
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