The Council of Europe raised the issue in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny.

An official from the Council of Europe, Frank Schwabe, has confronted Chechen officials over reports of a gay ‘purge’ that is said to be taking place in the region.

Back in 2017, chilling reports of young gay men being murdered by their own family members came to fruition, as authorities told parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Chechnya had launched another crackdown on LGBTQ people in the region, with activists claiming that two people have been killed and a further 40 have been detained because of their sexual orientation.

Speaking to CNN in 2017, one man recalled the torture he went through, saying: “They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me.

“They tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They’ve got special equipment which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.”

AFP reports that Schwabe told them: “There are very serious reports about violations against women, against LGBT people and about illegal detentions. We cannot accept it.”

Schwabe was scheduled to meet Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov yesterday (21 September), although it was called off. However, Schwabe did call another meeting “an important sign of the renewal of dialogue.”

However, the Chechen leader before the meeting had called reports of the ‘purge’ made up. “Here men marry women and women marry men,” he wrote. “It was like this for thousands of years and that is how it will always be, whatever the West tells us.”

In a phone interview, Schwabe said: “They claimed there is no LGBT community in Chechnya so there could not be any violence against them.”

Schwabe continued that he “did not have the impression” that Russian authorities were doing anything to tackle the human rights abuses in the country, but he welcomed “the authorities’ willingness to discuss such difficult topics.”

Earlier this year, four gay men who had been tortured in the region spoke about what happened to them. All four of the men said they were tortured for other information on gay men, and one of them said when he was handed back to his family the officer implied that they should kill him.

They also confirmed that they were denied access to food and only had limited access to water. They were outed to other inmates as gay, and given what officials described as “women’s work” i.e. cleaning toilets and washing floors, as a form of humiliation.

The men also described their cell conditions, with two saying they were held with up to forty other men in a police compound, another being put in a garage before being moved to a lock-up cell with eight to ten other men, and the last being held in isolation in a basement.