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
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled straight rich Russian and Chinese investors yearning to breathe free.
Last night at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, opening ceremony IOC president Thomas Bach made a strong statement against “any form of discrimination” and in favor of tolerance. Viewers worldwide heard the statement; but NBC viewers in the U.S. did not, because the network edited it out.
Here’s a transcript of Bach’s speech from British TV. NBC edited out the bolded portion.
Good evening, dear Athletes. Mr president of the Russian Federation, Mr Secretary General of the United Nations, Good evening Olympic friends and fans around the world! Welcome to the 22nd Olympic Winter Games! Tonight, we are writing a new page in Olympic history. What has been achieved in seven years is a remarkable achievement. I would like it thank, in again, the president of the Russian Federation and his Government. The Sochi organizing committee. The Russian Olympic committee. And the IOC members in Russia. Thank you to all the workers for your great contribution under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thank you to all the people of Sochi and the Krasnodar region. Thank you for your patience, thank you for your understanding during these years of transformation.
Now you are living in an Olympic Region. I am sure you will enjoy the benefits for many, many years to come. Thousands of volunteers have welcomed us with the well-known warm Russian hospitality. Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers. Bolshoi spasiba, valantyoram! Thank you very much to everyone. Russia and the Russians have set the stage for you, the best winter athletes on our planet. From this moment on you are not only the best athletes, you are Olympic Athletes. You will inspire us with your outstanding sports performances. You have come here for sports. You have come here with your Olympic dream. The International Olympic Committee wants your Olympic Dream to come true. This is why we are investing almost all of our revenues in the development of sports. The universal Olympic rules apply to each and every athlete- no matter where you come from or what your background is. You are living together in the Olympic Village. You will celebrate victory with dignity and accept defeat with dignity. You are bringing the Olympic Values to life. In this way, the Olympic Games, wherever they take place, set an example for a peaceful society. Olympic Sport unites people. This is the Olympic Message the athletes spread to the host country and to the whole world. Yes, it is possible to strive even for the greatest victory with respect for the dignity of your competitors. Yes, Yes, it is possible – even as competitors – to live together under one roof in harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason. Yes, it is possible – even as competitors – to listen, to understand and to give an example for a peaceful society.
Olympic Games are always about building bridges to bring people together. Olympic Games are never about erecting walls to keep people apart. Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity. Therefore, I say to the political leaders of the world – thank you for supporting your athletes. They are the best ambassadors of your country. Please respect their Olympic Message of goodwill, of tolerance, of excellence and of peace. Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful, direct political dialogue and not on the backs of the athletes. APPLAUSE To all sports officials and sports fans I say – join and support our fight for fair play, the athletes deserve it. To you – my fellow Olympic Athletes – I say, respect the rules, play fair, be clean, respect your fellow athletes in and out of competition. We all wish you joy in your Olympic effort and a wonderful Olympic experience. APPLAUSE To all of you – Athletes, Officials, Fans and Spectators around our globe – I say, enjoy the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games! And now I have the honour of inviting the president of the Russian Federation, Mister Vladimir Putin, to declare open the 22nd Olympic Winter Games.
We should have boycotted, plain and simple. But no. We let the lily-livered powers that be in the LGBT community cop-out once again. We even some in the gay community trot out the old chestnut, “but what about the athletes?” as if it’s an athletes right to be subsidized by the government and/or corporation in some bullshit sport and that outweighs the cost of another human beings life.
Last night was a televised validation of Putin and a celebration of his corruption and evil sponsored by Visa and Coca Cola and the spinelessness of NBC and America for not taking a stand.
“In addition to merchandise with HRC’s signature ‘equal’ logo, the store will offer items emblazoned with the words and images of Harvey Milk. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to local organizations that continue to carry on the legacy of Harvey Milk, such as the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and the GLBT Historical Society, according to the organization.”
Said HRC President Joe Solmonese: “It is Harvey Milk’s vision of hope that continues to inspire the work that we do at the Human Rights Campaign. We are the beneficiaries of his groundbreaking activism and are honored to be a part of the future that he envisioned.”
*BANG BANG BANG*
Thats the sound of Harvey not only rolling over in his grave but trying to pound his way out to bitchslap Solmonese and the HRC.
The utter nerve and gall of the HRC leaves me speechless. Rather than opening gift shops at gay historical monuments of REAL LGBT Civil rights leaders perhaps they should try political action themselves.
Oh and please note “A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to local organizations that continue to carry on the legacy of Harvey Milk, such as the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and the GLBT Historical Society, according to the organization.” They forgot to add “and a larger portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will go straight to Joe Solmonese’s martini party and designer suit fund.”
The HRC has no shame. San Franciscans should be protesting in front of that store EVERY day until the HRC move out and more respectable and reverent treatment of Harvey’s historic landmark and legacy can be thought of and implemented.