In an interview with the US sports journalist Bryant Gumbel (HBO) on combat sports, the President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has declared:

“If there are gays [in Chechnya], take them to Canada. Please God take them, just so long as they are not here. It’s so we can purify our blood. If there are here, take them”.

Speaking of people who testified that they were tortured for homosexuality by the Chechen police, he continued: “They are the devil. We need to get rid of them, they are not men (…) Please punish them God so that they do not bring accusations against us. They will have to respond for this before the All-Mighty”.

In April, the Russian Daily, Novaïa Gazeta , had accused the Kadyrov administration of persecuting homosexuals. This was something that Russian gay associations had initially denied. However, according to Igor Kochetkov of the LGTB Network in Russia, during recent weeks, the Chechen police tried to organize false accusations ranging from burglary to terrorism against gays just to justify locking them up.

Chechnya has been Russian since the seventeenth century. The majority of its inhabitants are Sunni Muslims with a strong presence of the Sufi Brotherhood of the Naqchbandis. It provided a large number of professional soldiers to the Tsar, then to the Red Army. During the dissolution of the USSR, Chechen officers tried to carve a State for themselves. The CIA intervened in the conflict on the side of the Naqchbandis which created the Islamic Emirate of Itchkerie modelled on that set up by the Afghan Taliban. While not a local tradition, the Emirates killed homosexuals. The current president Kadyrov is the son of the Grand Mufti, Akhmad Kadyrov, who supported first the Emirates and then became close to Moscow and finally helped to conquer the Islamists.

Homosexuality was only repressed in Russia in the period 1936 – 1991. Never by the Tsar or the Bolsheviks. Kadyrov’s current Islamic policy comes at a time when some Russian parliamentarians consider homosexuality akin to a contagious disease for example and try to keep it out of sight.

Anoosha Boralessa