Reports have surfaced in the last month that Chechen officials have begun rounding up Gay Men and sending them to torture prisons. Last month, reports say that some 100 men suspected of being gay were rounded up and tortured, and at least 3 have been killed, according to the opposition paper Novaya Gazeta. Chechen officials have even begun encouraging parents of gay men to kill their children before the state has to intervene, leading to the reported death of at least one person: a 17-year old gay man was pushed off a 9th floor balcony by his uncle after he was outed to his family as homosexual.

The crackdown is turning into a full blown genocide

More recent stories coming out of Chechnya have begun characterizing the campaign, begun after a Russian Lgbt Rights organization requested a permit for pride parades in the Caucuses, as a pogrom against gay men similar to those against Jews in Russia during the Russian Civil War. The New York Times reports that officials told the men as they rounded them up that the crackdown was a prophylactic cleansing of homosexuality in Chechnya. A victim of the torture told the Times that, while some think the government is simply terrorizing another social group as they have for decades, in reality the campaign is part of the push for a new, pure nation based ideology.

Russian LGBT groups are mobilizing against the crackdown

As a response to the crackdown, Russian LGBT rights groups like the Russian LGBT Network have begun setting up channels to support and rescue men who feel they are in danger due to their sexuality. Those seeking refuge are slow to trust the groups, suspecting that they may also be traps set up by Chechen officials to catch gay men trying to escape, but most feel they have no other choice but to take the risk.

In Russia, Putin is pushing back against the narrative activist groups are trying to establish. Russian police detained around 20 gay rights activists during May Day protests trying to raise awareness of the crackdown in Chechnya. Putin’s regime has a history of mistreatment of LGBT people within its own borders and is an almost unconditional supporter of the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Chechen officials deny the existence of gay men in the region and Putin promises a review of the situation

Yet, Chechnya’s pro-Vladimir Putin leader denies the reports and goes so far as to deny the existence of homosexuality within Chechnya. And while Putin has promised to look into the human rights abuses, albeit with some strong encouragement from Germany’s Angela Merkel, his personal history with Chechnya and the Kadyrov family spell out little possibility of relief for Chechen gay men without international intervention. So far it seems that international intervention is unlikely, barring any action by Russia. While many nations have made statements requesting Russian intervention, no one seems willing to take on the responsibility of enforcing human rights standards in Chechnya: any placement of troops in the region could be seen as a provocation by Russian military officials and lead the increasingly aggressive Russia to take action.