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"Chechnya gay rights activists arrested on way to d..."



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Russia, officially known as the Russian Federation, is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both with Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, the US state of Alaska across the Bering Strait and Canada's Arctic islands. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the world's ninth most populous nation with 143 million people as of 2012. Extending across the entirety of northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans nine time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms.

The nation's history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.

Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, and the first man in space. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation and is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Union state.

The Russian economy ranks as the ninth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest by purchasing power parity in 2014. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources, the largest reserves in the world, have made it one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas globally. The country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

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img Dan Ficke posted a review

Russian police have detained five activists who tried to deliver a petition to prosecutors in Moscow against the treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya.

Hundreds of thousands had signed the petition calling for an official investigation into the alleged torture and killing of gay men in the Russian territory.

Police said they arrested the men because their actions amounted to an unsanctioned protest.

1 week ago

img Justin Thomas posted a review

Five LGBT activists have been arrested in Moscow as they tried to deliver a petition calling on Russian authorities to investigate the alleged detention and torture of dozens of gay men in Chechnya.

One of the activists from the group LGBT Network, Nikita Safranov, speaking to ABC News from inside the police station where he and the four others were being detained, said they were arrested today while walking toward the offices of Russia's Prosecutor General in central Moscow.

The group was carrying large stacks of boxes stamped with the words "Justice for the Chechen 100" and filled with copies of the petition. Safranov said they expected to be charged with staging an unsanctioned demonstration.

The group's petition, which was launched on, calls for Russia's prosecutor to investigate recent reports that over 100 men have been kidnapped and tortured by authorities in Chechnya as part of an alleged organized roundup targeting the gay community there.

Reports of the alleged roundup emerged in early April after the oppositional Russian investigative newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, published articles detailing accounts of how Chechen security forces were detaining the men and holding them in secret prisons. The newspaper said sources in Chechnya's security services and the LGBT community described the detentions as a "prophylactic purge" against homosexuals in the southern Russian republic, where homosexuality is widely viewed as bringing shame on a family.

Since then, testimonies have emerged from some of the men detained, detailing brutal tortures. One man, who requested anonymity in an interview with ABC News last month, described how Chechen law enforcement agents had kept him in jail for a week, beating him with plastic rods and torturing him with electric shocks.

"They beat me around the eyes, around the head. They detained me for more than a week. They didn't give anything to eat, the only water I could drink was when they allowed me to pray, during ablutions," said the man, whom ABC News is identifying as Z.

Testimony from Z. and from other men published in Novaya Gazeta, the Guardian and The New York Times said the agents demanded that those detained name other gay men, forming a chain of terror. Police went through the men's phones looking for their gay acquaintances, they said, then lured other men into traps and took them to be tortured.

Irina Gordienko, a reporter at Novaya Gazeta, told ABC News that the newspaper believes around 200 men had been detained and that is has proof that at least three men have been killed in the purge, and fears that there were likely more.

Z., who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concerns for his safety, told ABC News he was released after the agents could find no proof he was gay. But he then fled Chechnya when a mutual acquaintance was detained, fearing authorities would return for him again.

A conservative, predominantly Muslim region, attitudes in Chechnya to homosexuality were already very hostile. But recently the region's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been aggressively promoting conservative or what he calls traditional values. Operating with almost total impunity in the region that is still traumatized from two savage separatist wars in the 1990s and early 2000s, Chechnya's security forces under Kadyrov have a long-documented history of kidnapping, torturing and killing his opponents. The testimonies suggest they have now been turned against the gay community.

Chechen authorities have denied that the detentions are taking place. Kadyrov and other Chechen officials have said such persecutions were impossible because Chechnya does not have gay men.

"They were never among us Chechens," Kadyrov told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. "It can only be those who, not being Chechens, call themselves so in order to get the chance to go the West."

The regional branch of the Prosecutor's Office in Chechnya has opened an investigation into the reports, but the denunciations from Kadyrov, who personally controls law enforcement in the region, mean few believe anything will come from it.

The Kremlin has also been reluctant to respond to the reports. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, initially told reporters that anyone suffering abuses should report them to law enforcement.

Putin himself commented publicly for the first time on the reports last week, saying he would ask federal law enforcement to investigate.

The reports of the alleged detentions have prompted condemnation from around the world. The foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden sent a joint letter last week calling on Russia to investigate.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley issued a statement in April saying the abuses "cannot be ignored." The State Department said it was "deeply disturbed" by the reports.

LGBT Network has been helping gay men to leave Chechnya. To date, the organization told ABC News, it has helped 42 people escape, providing some of them with safe houses within Russia. Some of those who have left, however, said they are still terrified that the Chechen authorities or their own relatives will find them and hurt them. Kadyrov and his inner circle have been repeatedly accused by rights groups and European police of running death squads to assassinate political opponents in Russia and abroad.

"They have very long arms and they will hound us," said Z.. "I have to get out of here."

LGBT Network is trying to get the men asylum abroad in Europe or the United States.

Igor Kochetkov, the group's director, said three European countries were examining the possibility of offering asylum but so far no offers had been made.

1 week ago

img Sid Poduval posted a review

A Russian YouTuber who filmed himself playing Pokémon Go in a church has been convicted for “inciting religious hatred”.

Ruslan Sokolovsky posted his video at the height of the game’s popularity in August 2016. On Thursday he was convicted by a court in Yekaterinburg and given a given a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence. The same offence saw two women from the Pussy Riot punk collective sent to prison for two years in 2012.

Sokolovsky has been detained since October, facing up to five years in prison, and was relieved to not be facing jail time. He said: “Without the support from reporters, I would possibly have been given a real prison sentence.”

Judge Yekaterina Shoponyak said Sokolovsky’s videos manifested his “disrespect for society” and that he “intended to offend religious sentiments”.

1 week ago

img Ahmed Malik posted a review

When is being convicted of inciting hatred considered getting off easy?

It is when you’re Ruslan Sokolovsky, a 22-year-old atheist blogger who received a suspended sentence of 3½ years Thursday after posting a video of himself playing “Pokémon Go” in a renowned Russian cathedral.

In delivering the verdict, a judge in Yekaterinburg, Russia, said that Sokolovsky had insulted the feelings of Christians and Muslims by “attributing to Jesus Christ the qualities of a reanimated zombie,” among other offenses. 

That’s what you get for posting a profanity-laced YouTube video of yourself playing an altered reality game that involves catching virtual monsters using your iPhone camera in one of Russia’s holiest places, as Sokolovsky did in August. The Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg, 900 miles east of Moscow, is built on the site where Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  

The verdict is in line with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s vision for his country as a bastion of conservative values, aligned with the vision of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Sokolovsky was convicted of violating a Russian law against incitement of hatred that has been used to prosecute government critics, and a four-year-old “blasphemy law” that was used to prosecute members of the punk rock collective Pussy Riot after the group staged a protest against Putin at an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in 2012. 

2 weeks ago

img Jawad Khan posted a review

Police in Chechnya have been reportedly cracking down on gay men. Some have been imprisoned and tortured. David Greene talks to a representative of the Russian LGBT Network, which is helping the men.

2 weeks ago

img Justin Thomas posted a review

Russian police have detained LGBT activists attempting to raise awareness about the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.

The demonstration was held during a May Day march in St Petersburg, with a group of around 10 protesters arrested near the Anichkov Bridge in the centre of Russia’s second city.

Images shared on Twitter showed activists lying on the road  pretending to be dead, with fake blood smeared across their faces and covered with rainbow and Chechen flags.

2 weeks ago

img Simi Rehman posted a review

A Chechen fugitive who left the Russian republic to escape the “gay purge” currently underway, has shared a harrowing account of his escape with liberal Russian magazine Snob.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, shared the disturbing story of a 17-year-old boy who was pushed off of a 9th floor balcony by his uncle, after being outed.

The fugitive said he was forced to leave his country  after revealing his sexuality to his mullah (local religious scholar).

The mullah responded, saying, “As a Chechen and as a man I do not want to see you here. Neither in the mosque, nor in this district. I want you to leave now, because everything you said is the most disgusting thing you can find out. I hope your relatives have the dignity to wash away your shame. Go away.”

That’s when the mullah told him about the 17-year-old’s death.

Last week, survivors reported that families of gay and bisexual men are invited to prison sites to take part in killing their relatives.

‘Kill your loved ones or we will anyway,’ is the message authorities have reportedly sent.

“They tell the parents to kill their child,” said one man who managed to escape. “They say, ‘Either you do it or we will.’ They call it, ‘Cleaning your honor with blood.’”

Some have apparently committed the act.

2 weeks ago

img Dan Ficke posted a review

Russian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky has been under house arrest since last summer, when he was taken into custody for playing “Pokémon Go” inside a historic Russian Orthodox church. 
On Friday, Russian prosecutors requested a sentence of three and a half years in prison for the 22-year-old who they accused of inciting religious hatred.
The blogger, who also started an atheist magazine in 2016 according to The Moscow Times, uploaded a video to YouTube last August showing himself wandering the rooms of the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg in search of Pokémon on the augmented reality game. In the beginning of the video, Sokolovsky refers to news reports warning players against playing the game in churches. 
“How can one offend by entering a church with a smartphone?” the blogger said in the video, according to a translation by The Guardian. “I decided to just catch some Pokemon in church because, why not? I believe it’s both safe and not prohibited by law. Let’s go.”

2 weeks ago

img Frank Zetta posted a review

Authorities running concentration camp style prison in Chechnya are torturing inmates into outing others.

Activists from the Russian LGBT Network have revealed the horrifying abuse as they seek to help victims.


Maksim, who was captured, told the New York Times he had been tortured after meeting up with a gay friend at his home.

“They yelled, ‘Who else do you know?’” Maksim said, revealing that officers zapped him with painful currents.

“It was unbearably painful; I was hanging on with my last strength,” he added.


“But I didn’t tell them anything.”

3 weeks ago

img John Adams posted a review

NSFW This post contains content that might not be suitable for children. Click here to show.

Russian state television has claimed US President Donald Trump is more dangerous than North Korea's supreme commander, Kim Jong-un, in an apparent indication that Moscow’s opinion of the Republican has shifted.

State media in the country greeted the election of the bombastic property tycoon in November warmly, yet decisions by Mr Trump since coming into office have seen the two administrations come into conflict.

Relations slid after Mr Trump dropped a bomb on Afghanistan, accused Moscow of seizing Crimea by force and launched a missile strike against forces belonging to Russian ally Bashar al-Assad.

News presenter Dmitry Kiselyov who is known for his pro-Kremlin stance, said on his weekly TV news show 'Vesti Nedeli': “The world is a hair's breadth from nuclear war.

on April 21, 2017
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