Ramzan Kadyrov, the man who authorized a concentration camp for men suspected of being homosexuals, is reportedly in the hospital with a “severe” case of COVID-19.
Chechen officials have yet to confirm the news, but The Guardian reports that according to two Russian state news agencies, RIA Novosti and Tass, Kadyrov was flown to a clinic in Moscow “as his symptoms rapidly deteriorated.”
“Ramzan Kadyrov has been brought to Moscow by plane with suspected coronavirus. He is currently under medical observation,” said Tass, citing a “source in medical circles.”
Kadyrov’s illness was first reported by digital news outlet, Baza, who also noted that “there had been damage to his lungs.” If Kadyrov does indeed have COVID-19 it would “mark the most significant illness of a Russian official so far in the Covid-19 pandemic.”
As NewNowNext previously reported, allegations of an anti-gay purge in Chechnya first surfaced in April 2017, but Kadyrov has always maintained that the purge did not happen, as there are no homosexuals in Chechnya. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” a spokesperson told the state news agency Interfax. Kadyrov later told Vice, “If there are any gays… take them away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any, take them.”
It’s believed at least 100 men have been detained by authorities, with at least three deaths.
Even after prodding from the U.S. Department of State and the European Parliament urging Russia to investigate the allegations of horrific abuse, Russia refuses to address the torture—or acknowledge that it exists.
Some of the victims were able to escape the torture in Chechnya with the help of Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian advocacy group that helps LGBTQ asylum seekers migrate elsewhere safely to avoid persecution. Survivors of the so-called “purge” report being rounded up, detained, tortured, and forced to out other LGBTQ Chechens.
In 2019 Chechnya reportedly resumed its anti-LGBTQ crackdown, but Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Kadyrov, denied the reports of renewed attacks on the LGBTQ community, calling it “untruth and misinformation.”