Connect with us

Russia

Lawyer says brothers returned to Chechnya have been tortured

Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev fled anti-LGBTQ crackdown

Published

on

Grozny, Chechnya (Photo by Alexxx1979; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

GROZNY, Russia — The lawyer who represents two brothers from Chechnya who Russia returned to their homeland from which they had fled says they have been tortured.

The Russian LGBT Network in a press release it sent to the Los Angeles Blade said Alexander Nemov on Thursday met with Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev in the jail in Grozny, the Chechen capital, where they are currently incarcerated.

“Previously the lawyer was being denied access to the facility under the pretense that the brothers had fallen ill with COVID-19 despite the fact that they were being held in solitary cells,” said the Russian LGBT Network. “The employees of the detention facility did not provide Mr. Nemov with any justification or legal basis for such non-admission.”

The Russian LGBT Network in its press release said Nemov “managed to talk to the detainees and they shared what had been happening to them, in other words — how they had been subjected to violence — and gave insight into possible reasons for the non-admission.”

Magamadov and Isaev said they were scheduled to appear in court on July 22.

“They were being brought there in the enclosed back compartment of a truck-like vehicle with no ventilation,” said the Russian LGBT Network. “Due to the heat Magamadov and Isaev felt sick, however, in response to their pleas to open the windows the employees of the detention facility escorting them started laughing and insulting the brothers because of their sexual orientation. Ismail then asked one of them to stop and that resulted in violent actions on the part of the escorting personnel.”

The Russian LGBT Network notes the brothers’ court appearance “was postponed with no explanation, although the defendants were brought to the court building and the lawyers were awaiting inside in the courtroom.”

“Magamadov and Isaev were never let out of the car and simply driven back to the detention facility,” says the Russian LGBT Network.

The Russian LGBT Network says Isaev was “put into a room with no cameras and rudely told how wrong he was, that he had no right to talk back to people who had authority over him” once he and his brother returned to the jail.

“After an hour of ‘conversations’ one of those who had been escorting us came into the room and started beating me — fists bumping into my face and body, and then, later, he tried to strangle me,” said Isaev in the Russian LGBT Network press release. “The deputy head of the detention facility who had been present during the entire ordeal only stopped him from strangling me — he dragged him away from me and I was brought back to my cell.”

The Russian LGBT Network says jail personnel earlier this month beat both brothers after they refused to shave their heads.

Magamadov claims jail personnel beat him on Aug. 11 after he refused to say “he cut himself because of a nervous breakdown, not because of violence he had experienced” when he refused to shave his head.

“They made me spread my legs as wide as possible and then were beating me for a long time,” Magamadov told the Russian LGBT Network. “I could not take it and told them that I would sign anything they wanted. After that they put me back in my cell.”

Isaev told the Russian LGBT Network he developed a fever after jail personnel attacked him on Aug. 12. Isaev says he “was visited by a case officer” on Wednesday “and it was demanded that he should not tell (sic) about the former events.”

“If he disobeyed, Ismail was told, his conditions would worsen and he would be put in solitary confinement,” notes the Russian LGBT Network.

The anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus has sparked outrage around the world.

The Russian LGBT Network says Chechen authorities in April 2020 arrested Magamadov and Isaev after they made a series of posts on Osal Nakh 95, a Telegram channel used by opponents of Chechen President Raman Kadyrov, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chechen authorities reportedly forced the brothers to make “apology videos” after they were tortured.

The Russian LGBT Network helped Magamadov and Isaev flee Chechnya in June 2020 after their release.

Police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod on Feb. 4 arrested the brothers and transferred them to the custody of Chechen authorities.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Russia

Hidden in plain view, Russian photographer defies country’s anti-gay law

“For me, it was important, firstly, to give the Russian male audience the opportunity to see their ideas about sexuality from the outside”

Published

on

With Love from Russia (Photo Credit: Vlad Zorin)

MOSCOW- Since the passage of the measure known colloquially as the “gay propaganda law” by the Russian parliament and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013, which ostensibly makes any act or event that authorities deem to promote homosexuality to minors illegal and punishable by a fine, it has had broader scope of enforcement by Russian authorities.

The overall effect has been chilling on the country’s LGBTQ community to freely express itself in public spaces, which has led a partial return to circumstances of existing underground in Russian society, although not to the degree as was the case during the era of the former Soviet Union.

The more pronounced effect on chilling freedom of expression has been the legislation deployed by authorities across Russia to prevent LGBTQ+ Pride parades and detain LGBTQ activists.

The passage of the law has also been accompanied by an increase in anti-LGBTQ violence in the country, according to The Russian LGBT Network and Human Rights Watch, both non-governmental organizations which advocate for LGBTQ civil and human rights.

However, the law has also had a detrimental effect on scores of Russian artists, photographers, filmmakers and others who fear running afoul of the interpretation and application of the law by oft times homophobic authorities. There are those in the greater Russian artist community who have chosen to openly defy Russian censorship and the draconian “gay propaganda law.”

Earlier this month, Vlad Zorin, a Chelyabinsk, Western-Central Russia born artist and photographer published his first book of art photographs that depict intimate portraits of gay men alongside stories about their coming out, sexual awakening, romantic relationships, heartbreaks, and dealing with life in an anti-gay nation.

Zorin, who divides his time between the French capital city of Paris and the Russian capital city of Moscow, spoke with the British bimonthly magazine i-D about his book titled, “With Love from Russia.” Contributing i-D editor Douglas Greenwood wrote in a piece published about Zorin’s work:

With Love from Russia — which Vlad worked on with curator Andrey Lopatin and supporter Ksenia Arturovna Chilingarovafor — is as much about identity as it is about sex. To compile it, he spent months travelling across his homeland, tracking down participants via social media, armed with questions about their ‘Firsts’ and ‘Favourites’. But what unfolded is a bleak and revealing portrayal of what it’s like to navigate queerness in isolated places, and how that can ostracise you even further from the few people you have close. There are stories of brief teenage encounters, girlfriends, discovering pornography, heartbreak and, for some, eventual contentment.

Zorin’s website notes: “Vlad’s artistic language was formed from the analysis of male sexuality, sensuality, and youth experience. Such projects as Hare and God, inspired by Vlad’s partner and muse Yulian, became a personal manifest of love and public call for freedom. Vlad explores the themes of personal freedom, the new generation experience and the reflection of sexuality.

“For me, it was important, firstly, to give the Russian male audience the opportunity to see their ideas about sexuality from the outside — with all the problems that are present in our view, which is why the book contains Russian language,” Zorin told i-D’s Greenwood.

“I wanted it to include English to enable foreign audiences to expand their ideas about sex and sexuality in post-Soviet Russia and because the main message of the book lies outside national borders,” he continued. “With Love from Russia is a book that invites you to reflect on your sexuality, listen to yourself and your desires, compare them with other’s experiences and draw parallels.”

Link: https://withlovefromrussia.vladzorin.com/buy/

Continue Reading

Russia

Brothers returned to Chechnya start hunger strike

Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev fled anti-LGBTQ crackdown

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

ANCKNOY-MARTAN, Russia — Two brothers from Chechnya who Russia returned to their homeland from which they had fled have reportedly begun a hunger strike.

The Russian LGBT Network in a press release notes lawyers from the Crisis Group “North Caucasus SOS” who represent Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev on Tuesday “declared the beginning of a hunger strike” after a judge denied their request to move their case from Achknoy-Martan, a locality in Chechnya’s Achkhoy-Martanovsky District, to another court in the semi-autonomous Russian republic.

Chechen authorities in April 2020 arrested Magamadov and Isaev after they made a series of posts on Osal Nakh 95, a Telegram channel used by opponents of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chechen authorities reportedly forced the brothers to make “apology videos” after they were tortured.

The Russian LGBT Network helped Magamadov and Isaev flee Chechnya after their release. Police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod on Feb. 4 arrested the brothers and transferred them to the custody of Chechen authorities.

The Russian LGBT Network says Magamadov and Isaev have been held in a prison in Grozny, the Chechen capital, for “more than 10 months.” The brothers’ lawyer has said Magmadov and Isaev have been tortured.

The anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya has sparked worldwide outrage.

The U.S. in 2017 sanctioned Kadyrov under the Magnitsky Act, which freezes the assets of Russian citizens who commit human rights abuses and bans them from entering the U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price after Russian authorities arrested Magamadov and Isaev said the U.S. is “profoundly concerned” over their case.

Continue Reading

Russia

Russian Interior Ministry launches probe into Netflix’s ‘LGBTQ’ content

Part of the political pressure to further restrict LGBTQ+ equality stems from anti-LGBTQ+ remarks made by Russian President Vladimir Putin

Published

on

Photo by Strekoza.nyc

MOSCOW – Olga Baranets- the “public commissioner for the protection of the family” accused the American streaming giant Netflix of violating the 2013 Russian law regarding what the Russian government deems “gay propaganda.”

In a formal complaint filed with the Russian Interior Ministry, Baranets, a resident of the Russian capital, alleged that Netflix was violating the law’s provisions that prohibit “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations among Russians under the age of 18” when Netflix broadcast LGBTQ+ themed series with a 16+ label.

A source for the Russian Interior Ministry told the Blade on Sunday that it is investigating the matter. The law requires that there is a 30-day deadline for responding to such inquiries, Baranets sent her complaint to the Ministry of Internal Affairs on November 10.

A person familiar with the Russian government probe and Baranets’ complaint but not authorized to speak to the media at Netflix’s European headquarters in Amsterdam said that it was doubtful the company violated the tenets of the so-called “gay propaganda” law. The source added that company had found no series and films about the lives of LGBTQs with a 16+ label when it checked earlier this month that would have been available in the Russian Federation.

Netflix’s “colorful collection of films and TV series tells about the lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people,” Baranets told Vedomosti, a Russian-language business daily newspaper, which first reported the story.

Vedomosti noted that should Netflix be found guilty of violating the law it could face a fine of up to $1 million rubles, ($11,844.48 Euros)-($13,400 USD) or a temporary suspension of its service for 90 days.

The Moscow Times reported that earlier this month, a Moscow court fined Russia’s Muz-TV music video channel 1 million rubles ($14,000) after its awards show featured gender-flipping stars and what viewers said resembled a same-sex wedding.

The Russian internet watchdog agency Roskomnadzor, the state media and communications regulator, has stepped up its efforts to implement sweeping bans of so-called “perverted” television shows and movies on all streaming platforms in addition to the complaints about Netflix.

Officials are also working with Vitaly Milonov, deputy chairman of the Committee on Family Affairs, Women, and Children, in the Russian State Duma, (Parliament) to sponsor legislation that would make changes to three laws that regulate media, regulate the protection of children from harmful content and banning displays of “gay propaganda” toward Russians under the age of 18.

Interviewed by RIA Novosti, the state-controlled news agency last week, Milanov told the news outlet that “Russian citizens don’t want such content to be broadcast widely.” He then added that “the legal solution to this situation is just around the corner. Whoever wants can have special access to such videos as well as with pornography.”

The English language Moscow Times reported that Russian film distributors in recent years have edited LGBTQ sex scenes and characters from movies before they were shown in theaters. Roskomnadzor’s proposed rules would for the first time affect online streaming and could lead to movies like “50 Shades of Grey” and shows like “Billions” being blocked by Russian internet providers.

Milanov has long been a vocal fierce opponent of the LGBTQ+ community. Legislation authored by him while as an elected official in St. Petersburg was later the boiler-plate model for the national 2013 ” gay propaganda ” law. This past August he stated that LGBTQ+ people are the “lowest stage of development of the animal world” and should be “sterilized” as stray cats are.

Part of the political pressure to further restrict LGBTQ+ equality stems from anti-LGBTQ+ remarks made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a speech he made in October in Sochi.

The Russian president  accused “monstrous” Western countries of forcing “transgenderism” onto children.

We’re surprised to see things happening in countries that see themselves as flagships of progress… The struggle for equality and against discrimination turns into aggressive dogmatism verging on absurdity.”

People who dare to say that men and women still exist as a biological fact are almost ostracized… Not to mention the simply monstrous fact that children today are taught from a young age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa.

Let’s call a spade a spade: This simply verges on crimes against humanity under the banner of progress.”

Roskomnadzor head Andrei Lipov reportedly cited Putin’s Sochi speech as justification for the proposed streaming bans.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular