The United States has declined visas to gay Chechens fleeing a wave of kidnappings, torture, and disappearances in the semi-autonomous Russian region, according to the organization Russia LGBT Network.
A group of around 40 Chechens are now in hiding in other parts of Russia, Russia LGBT Network spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova told BuzzFeed News, and are having difficulty securing visas that would allow them to flee the country.
Since the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported the abuse of dozens of gay Chechens in April, just two have managed to secure visas to safe countries despite the European Union and the United States expressing concern about the allegations, Zakharova said. A handful of gay Chechens have fled without visas because they believed the danger of staying in Russia was too great.
A US State Department spokesperson said in a statement provided on background that the department could not comment on the visa denials because, “As visa records are confidential under U.S. law, we are unable to discuss individual cases.”
Left with no way to get out, the gay men seeking visas continue to fear for their lives in Russia. The strongman who rules Chechnya with near impunity, Ramzan Kadyrov, is accused of having his critics hunted down both in other parts of Russia and outside Russia’s borders. – Buzzfeed
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