Straight Man Arrested, Tortured in Chechnya after Gay Allegation
Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.
Chechnya's brutally anti-gay autocracy has swept up at least one heterosexual man in its homophobic fervor, according to inews, with Chechen security officers reportedly subjecting 40-year-old Salman Mukaev to baseless arrest and vicious torture, forcing him to sign blank pages that can be filled in later with "confessions" to invented crimes, and pressuring him to "work with" police to entrap and persecute LGBTQ+ people.
Ironically, the Chechen police officers who placed Mukaev under arrest for supposedly being gay used his activity chatting with women on a straight dating site as justification for detaining him.
The police "claimed that he had discussed homosexuality in one conversation," inews said. "He denied this but said he was subjected to days of torture regardless."
Among the abuses Mukaev suffered during a week of torture, Pink News reported, he was "tied up, choked, electrocuted and forced to declare that he had a sexual relationship with a male friend."
The outlet noted that "As a republic of Russia, [Chechnya] is subject to Russian anti-gay laws, which prohibit the distribution of 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships' among minors."
But Chechnya, which is under control of strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, has taken matters much further than the rest of Russia generally has.
"Anti-gay purges have been documented in Chechnya since 2017, where gay men have been tortured, detained, disappeared and killed," inews recalled.
Still, Russian operatives were complicit in the treatment Mukaev was subjected to, inews detailed. "An officer from the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's internal security agency, offered to release Mr. Mukaev and for his charges to be downgraded to illegal storage of ammunition – if he agreed to work with Chechen security forces."
The "work" in question reflected the brutish tactics that are common under totalitarian rule. "He would have to pose as a gay man to meet other gay men online, invite them to an apartment fitted with hidden cameras and let police arrest these men," inews said.
Mukaev was freed after signing blank "confessions," but, unwilling to do the bidding of police in persecuting other people, he fled Chechnya for Armenia. Now, however, he faces deportation back to Russia – and his tormentors' waiting arms – thanks to trumped-up charges from the Russian government, inews said.
Though he has been offered asylum in a European country, Armenia has not allowed him to leave, due to the charges that Russia has leveled against Mukaev, "of illegal weapons possession," the news source detailed. "Human rights activists maintain these are fabricated charges."
"For Yuri Guaiana, Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out, the implications of this case are significant, as Mr Mukaev is the first heterosexual person to speak openly about being tortured after facing accusations of homosexuality in Chechnya," inews relayed.
"This proves what we have been saying," Guaiana declared, "which is that every attack on LGBT rights is actually a risk for everybody."
"This is not an isolated case, but another case of the systemic persecution faced by victims of Chechen authorities."
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.