Gay men come forward with new accounts of being tortured in Chechnya concentration camps

Two young men have come forward to open up about their experiences in Chechnya, where both were detained and beaten for being gay.

Unwilling to give their real names for obvious reasons, they’re calling themselves Gregory and Arnie.

“I was kidnapped and kept for 12 days in a basement,” Gregory, 21, tells NPR“I was beaten and interrogated.”

Stories like Gregory’s began circulating this April after Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 had been rounded up and detained under suspicion of “untraditional sexual orientation.” Three men had already been killed in the antigay purge,  the paper reported.

Here’s how Gregory describes his ordeal:

“When I was detained, the police went through my phone and social media,” Gregory says. “They forced me to contact someone I was dating.”

Related: Chechnya authorities to parents: “Kill your gay sons or we will”

And so he did, setting up a date. Later, authorities drove him to the location.

“They put a black plastic bag over my head and put a gun to my head. They made me call the other guy and tell him to come the car. Then they kidnapped him as well.

They told me I wasn’t a human being and deserved to be murdered.”

Gregory was eventually released for reasons he doesn’t know. (He suspects it’s because he’s not originally from Chechnya but another part of Russia.) Authorities handed him a bus ticket and told him to leave Chechnya immediately.

The St. Petersburg-based Russian LGBT Network operates a 24-hour hotline and figured out how to get Gregory to Moscow, where he wound up in a safe house operated by the Moscow Community Center, an organization serving the LGBTQ community that’s already provided shelter to over 30 men from Chechnya.

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