Prisoners being held at a concentration camp for homosexuals in Chechnya have been moved to an undisclosed location and the barracks destroyed, reports Novoya Gazeta, which broke the story about gay men being detained, tortured and murdered in the region back in early April.
Human rights activists claimed the camp was located in a former military base in the city of Argun. But when an investigative committee approved by Vladimir Putin arrived, the building was buried up to the roof in “construction debris.”
It’s believed men who were being held there have been transported to a police training base in Terek, about 40 miles north of Argun. But investigators have been denied access. Novoya Gazeta also reports that the names of 26 men murdered so far in in 2017 were delivered to investigators.
Some police officers have secretly aided investigators by handing over lists of illegal detainees, but Grozny police chief Nazhud Guchigov denies anyone has been persecuted. (He’s also suddenly become an ally, declaring, “Nobody will touch them now, even if parades are held in the center of Grozny.”)
But according to reports, relatives are being forced to sign statements claiming the victims left the republic to work in Moscow in February, and denying any involvement by authorities.
At least 40 men have been able to flee Chechya with help from the Russian LGBT Network and groups like the Rainbow Railroad. Activists say five countries have accepted asylum-seekers, though the U.S. and UK are not among them.
Chechan leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the camps exist—and even the existence of homosexuals in Chechnya. At the same time, he’s promised to rid the region of homosexuals by the start of Ramadan, which begins on Friday.
The Rainbow Railroad is raising funds to help at-risk LGBT people get out of the region. You can make a donation on their website. For more on international LGBT issues, visit Logo’s Global Ally page.