A critic of Chechnya's leader was forced to commit a horrific act of self-rape on camera.
Salman Tepsurkayev, a 19-year-old Russian dissident living in the republic of Chechnya, filmed an "apology" video for his work as a social media moderator of a Telegram channel critical of Ramzan Kadyrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After he apologizes in Chechen, Tepsurkayev sodomizes himself by sitting on top of an empty bottle in the clip that was posted to social media and went viral in Russia, reports The Daily Beast.
It is a routine practice for Chechen authorities to intimidate and torture dissidents and force apologies. For years, the region has reportedly been rounding up queer people into camps and inflicting practices like electrocutions and beatings; some resulted in death. These human rights abuses -- and the responsive resistance -- were chronicled in a recent HBO documentary by David France, Welcome to Chechnya.
Kadyrov, an ally of Putin, has denied these horrific acts have taken place, and Putin has failed to act to address them despite international condemnation. Tepsurkayev's work as a moderator for the channel, called 1ADAT, was filled with posts calling out this brutality and Putin's complicity from Chechens living in Russia and abroad. He was detained by Chechen authorities earlier this month.
However, the video of Tepsurkayev has sparked renewed calls to action from many Chechens, according to Ekaterina Sokirianskaya, who helms the media watchdog Conflict Analysis and Prevention Center.
"People are furious, many call to take up weapons; I can also see posts of other nationals in Northern Caucasus saying that if Chechens tolerate this, they have been morally murdered," Sokirianskaya told The Daily Beast.
"Chechen women and men said they felt sick, shocked, humiliated; many did not know how to continue their life with dignity," Sokirianskaya added. "The Kremlin officials should realize how much Chechen people respect traditions, many take this public rape allegedly forced by authorities personally, such horrible violation is a provocation of violence."
There's no record of a response from either Chechen or Russian leaders. Chechnya waged wars in the 1990s for independence from Russia, and Kadyrov's late father, Akhmad Kadyrov, was once an independence leader but switched sides to ally with Russia. Ramzan Kadyrov, who became Chechnya's president in 2007, essentially has "free rein over the republic on Russia's southern border so long as he tamps down on separatist sentiments and doesn't pose problems for the Kremlin," The Washington Post notes.
The U.S. State Department has imposed a series of sanctions on Chechnya, most recently barring Kadyrov and his immediate family from traveling to the U.S., according to the Post. Chechnya's human rights abuses have become even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, State Department officials said.