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Russian Site Encouraging the Hunting of LGBTQ People Taken Down

Saw game

Russian authorities closed down a website encouraging individuals to hunt down and torture LGBTQ individuals.

The site was up for a year, according to Newsweek, and published personal information about out and suspected gays and bisexuals. Named after the horror film Saw, the hate site promoted an event called Chechnya’s Comeback, a clear reference to reported gay crackdown in the nation, a semiautonomous republic within Russia. 

The website allowed users to upload information identifying individuals and encouraging readers hunt those men down.

Earlier this month, Gay Star News reported the website had started selling that information to users for 200 rubles, about $3 in U.S. currency, if they wanted to participate in hunting gay men.

The site also extorted the individuals on the site by asking for a 1,500-ruble fee to have the personal information removed.

Administrators promised legal protection to users hunting down LGBTQ people and said they could do “anything but kill” individuals. 

The existence of the site prompted some high-profile LGBTQ activists to temporarily leave the country, including Russian LGBTQ Network leader Misha Tumasov.

The database included information on other prominent figures like Igor Kotchetkov, an activist heavily involved in publicizing the Chechnya gay crackdown. Kotchetkov has previously received death threats for his work.

The Russian LGBTQ Network was the first to report the Saw website had been taken down. But the group warned it could come back, and there’s no sign authorities have done anything to shut down the organization behind the efforts.

“The first reports that a homophobic group began to operate in Russia, organizing the hunt for homosexual, bisexual and transgender people, appeared in the spring of 2018," reads a message from the Russian LGBT Network in Russian. "Despite the media attention, law enforcement agencies have still not done anything to find the creators of this 'game' and bring them to justice." 

“The Russian LGBT Network invites all those who consider open calls to violence unacceptable to submit applications to the FSB, the Investigation Committee, the Prosecutor General's Office,” the message continued.

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