Parade “Immortal regiment”, Lytkarino, Russia. | Photo: Vladimir Varfolomeev / Flickr
A group of seven unknown men raided a Russian activist’s home in St Petersburg last week (17 May).
The activist, who wishes to remain anonymous, works as a volunteer for the Russian LGBT Network’s hotline service.
The hotline offers LGBTI people in Russia and Chechnya legal, psychological and organizational consultations.
The Russian LGBT Network plays an instrumental role in helping LGBTI people escape Chechnya, where it’s illegal to be gay. Reports also emerged over the last two years of Chechen authorities rounding up LGBTI people, then torturing and killing them.
Since April 2017, the Russian LGBT Network evacuated around 150 people out of Chechnya. 15 Chechen people are currently under the supervision of the organization.
LGBTI Chechens are still under threat.
What happened during the raid?
A spokesperson for the Russian LGBT Network told Gay Star News the seven unknown men searched the volunteer’s apartment looking for Emergency Program Coordinator David Isteev, as well as an evacuated Chechen woman.
When they couldn’t find who they were looking for, they threatened to hurt and kill the volunteer.
Three of the unknown men were Chechen and the remaining four hinted they were police officers but refused to provide identification.
Some perpetrators claimed they were police officers from Grozny, criminal investigation officers from the North Ossetia or members of Ramzan Kadyrov’s ‘special troops’.
The spokesperson revealed one of the perpetrators told the volunteer: ‘We will take you to the police office and will break all your bones.’
‘They told me to tell David that they were going to find and kill him,’ the volunteer revealed.
The Russian LGBT Network Executive Director Igor Kocketkov also regularly faces threats, which the organization takes very seriously.
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