Chechnya, or the Chechen Republic, is a republic of Russia that has recently come into the news under terrible circumstances, as they’re stance on homosexuality has gained traction in the world media. In particular, the Chechen government has been accused of rounding up people who identify as homosexuals and putting them into camps, which are being compared to concentration camps of the Second World War. Here, they are subject to physical violence and even death. The accusations were first made by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which is an anti-Russian government newspaper that reports on issues that are not often reported on. Mainstream media has not really explored the situation at hand properly. As terrible as this is, it is unproductive to throw around accusations while not knowing anything about the country and the background of the country and what has led to the terrible acts that are happening at the moment.
Chechnya was a part of the USSR, or the Soviet Union during the twentieth century but once the USSR dissolved, Chechnya fought wars against Russia for its independence. At the moment, it is semi-autonomous from Russia, as it has its own legal code and government but there are still resentments held against the Russian government. This is because of the main religious difference between Russia, which is main Russian Orthodox Christian, and Chechnya that is mainly conservative Muslim. Although both of these are conservative and tend towards homophobia, the political ideologies between the countries interact with the religious differences.
Chechnya has always had a view that homosexuality is a sin and is against the religious beliefs of the country. It is because of this that homosexuality is illegal in Chechnya, but it was not up until now that there was such a radical movement to attack and imprison homosexual and bisexual men. This is part of a wider anti LGBT+ movement within Eastern Europe, which in itself is a part of a global movement towards the right, as can be seen in many of the leading economic and political countries (UK and USA). The ‘concentration camps’ that Chechnya are running are believed to have imprisoned over 100 men that were believed to be homosexual or bisexual, however the Chechnyan government deny this by saying through a representative:
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the representative, Alvi Karimov, said. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
However Amnesty International has declared that these camps are in fact concentration camps and should be treated as such. This is a terrible tragedy and no matter where on the political and ideological you fall, I would encourage you to hold the victims of this atrocity in your heart.