Russian activists say that Chechnya has resumed its anti-LGBTI ‘purge’, with as many as 40 people feared to have been detained in the crackdown.

The Russian LGBT Network believes dozens of people have been imprisoned since December 2018, the BBC reported.

Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has repeatedly denied claims of an anti-gay purge in the country and the reported concentration camps used to detain them.

A Russian man has previously come forward to detail the horrific treatment victims had suffered, saying that he and his partner were beaten and forced to fight each other.

Reports of what some have labelled a “genocide” first emerged in April 2017, when a Russian newspaper alleged that over 100 men had been taken to the camps and detained.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) last month released a report detailing the abuse and torture of those imprisoned there:

Detainees would experience verbal humiliation, being called “faggots” and told they brought shame on their people and shouldn’t exist. They would be given “electric shocks, usually at the fingers” or “taken to interrogation rooms and beaten with police sticks, plastic tubes and cables”, resulting in serious injuries such as “broken ribs, jaws and bruises”.

The report also refers to queer women being detained in the crackdown, and the abuse they had suffered:

In addition to the treatment of gay and bisexual men there have been reports of lesbian and bisexual women undergoing similar treatment. Unlawfully detained, beaten, and pressured to report on other LGBTI people, in extreme cases they would be raped and killed.

A spokesperson for the Chechen government once again labelled reports of a new wave in the country’s homophobic purge “complete lies”, while activists claim that at least two people have died as a result of their detainment and torture, but these claims are unverified.

The Russian LGBT Network believes that the arrest and detention of the administrator of group on the Russian social network VK triggered the latest wave in the purge, following the first, which the report says occurred between December 2016 and January 2017, and the second from March to May 2017, with an abortive third wave believed to have stalled in September or October last year.

The group the man administrated was intended as a means of communication for gay and bisexual men in North Caucasus to remain in contact.

Since the beginning of the purge, the Russian LGBT Network has since worked to evacuate approximately 150 people from the region.

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