Reports of gay men being tortured and imprisoned in Chechnya have been appearing for months, with horrifying first person accounts of former prisoners who had fled the regime of ultra-conservative nightmare president, Ramzan Kadyrov. There are reportedly many more seeking asylum from persecution—but they won’t find it in the U.S.
A Russia LGBT Network spokesperson explained to BuzzFeed News that there are about 40 Chechens hiding in different areas of Russia, trying to secure visas so they can flee the country. Some have left without the safety net of a visa, judging it too dangerous to remain in the country for the time its been taking to go through the proper channels:
The Russia LGBT Network spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that “negotiations have been difficult” with representatives of countries that could provide safe refuge for survivors of the violence. She would not name the countries the organization was still trying to secure visas from because this could put any Chechens whose applications ultimately succeeded in danger, but she said in an email to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that “we were informed that the US is not going to issue visas for people from Chechnya.”
A spokesperson for the State Department told BuzzFeed that the U.S. “continues to be concerned” about the allegations from Chechnya, calling reports that at least 100 gay men have been detained and tortured “credible.” They neither confirmed nor denied whether or not visas will be issued for any of these men, saying, “As visa records are confidential under U.S. law, we are unable to discuss individual cases.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in mid-April that the reports of this abuse “cannot be ignored” in a statement that was lauded for taking a stand against the alleged abuses of President Kadyrov. Those words have not manifested into needed action, perhaps because Vladimir Putin conducted an investigation and concluded that no violations against LGBT people in Chechnya were taking place.