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Survivor of Chechen 'Gay Purge' Is Kidnapped by Father in Russia

Zelimkhan Akhmadov
Zelimkhan Akhmadov

Zelimkhan Akhmadov was put on a wanted list after he fled for his life.

A gay survivor of a Chechen concentration camp was kidnapped by his father.

Zelimkhan Akhmadov had been taking out the trash Friday from a safehouse in Russia when he was pulled into a car by his father and several other people, reports Attitude.

During the abduction, witnesses heard the 20-year-old screaming for assistance. He managed to text "help me" to the Russian LGBT Network, an organization that had helped find refuge for Akhmadov after his harrowing ordeal.

Akhmadov was among the dozens of gay and bi men who had been detained and tortured by authorities in Chechnya in what has been called a "gay purge." He had escaped an attempted kidnapping in April but was put on a wanted list.

Fortunately, St. Petersburg authorities found Akhmadov -- as well as his father and fellow kidnappers -- after a friend reported the abduction. The license plate of the car used in the crime was flagged by security personnel.

At the police station, Akhmadov's father made threats to his son and claimed he had shamed their family. According to Metro Weekly, he attempted to force his son to record a video saying he was not gay and had never experienced discrimination in Chechnya, but Akhmadov refused.

The kidnappers were arrested, and Akhmadov has been placed in protective custody.

In a blog post, the Russian LGBT Network pointed to Akhamadov's abduction as evidence that refutes the claims of Russian authorities that they found no abuses of LGBT people -- or any LGBT people at all -- in investigations.

"Members of the LGBT community try to flee Chechnya because of the mass campaign against LGBT organized by the local authorities, but it is not enough," the post stated. "Chechen individuals suspected in homosexuality are persecuted outside of the Republic too. The Russian LGBT Network registered five cases of such abductions, as a result of which 5 people were taken back to Chechnya by force. It means that the Russian authorities cannot or do not want to protect the Russian citizens not only in Chechnya, but also outside of Chechnya."

Reports from LGBT groups and the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta say at least 200 gay and bisexual men may have been detained and as many as 26 killed in Chechen concentration camps. Families in Chechnya, a region of Russia, have reportedly been encouraged to turn in their queer children and even engage in "honor killings."

Since reports of the "gay purge" first broke in April 2017, countries including Canada, France, and Belgium have granted asylum to LGBT refugees fleeing persecution in Chechnya.

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