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In Horrific Interview, Chechen Leader Says Gay Men Are “Not People” And Don’t Exist in Chechnya

For the July 18 edition of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, reporter David Scott interviewed Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov – ostensibly about Kadyrov’s use of mixed martial arts (MMA) as part of his political messaging and military recruitment. However, Scott also did his job as a journalist. He took the opportunity to press Kadyrov about the disturbing reports that Chechen gay men are being murdered and rounded up in concentration camps. Kadyrov’s answers were – perhaps unsurprisingly – horrifically callous and homophobic.

Outsports first published the transcript of Scott and Kadyrov’s interview, but writer Yashar Ali shared the above video. In the video, Kadyrov is clearly irritated and surprised with the line of questioning. “Why did he [Scott] come here?” he asks, laughing dismissively. “What’s the point of these questions?”

Kadyrov then calms and says, “This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”

Scott followed up, asking: “But do you not get concerned when you read these accounts of young men who say they’ve been tortured for days? Does it concern you as a matter of law and order in the Republic, when you hear these stories?”

“They are devils,” answers Kadyrov. “They are for sale. They are not people. God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”

The full episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will air on July 18, in which the show will examine Kadyrov’s political use of MMA for military recruitment and reinforcing his repressive power.

This is not the first time that Kadyrov and his inner circle have denied the existence and humanity of gay Chechens. As quoted in The Irish Independent, Kadyrov’s spokesperson Alvi Karimov claimed, “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

Kadyrov is a well-established political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom you will remember Trump cozying up to at the G20 Summit. Despite claiming to be “much better for the gays,” Trump hasn’t pushed Putin about his support for Kadyrov or pressed him about resolving the horrific violence in Chechnya.

Fifty-three members of Congress sent a letter to Trump on July 13, urging him to use the United States’ “full leverage to pressure Russian authorities to end these atrocities, conduct a fair and open investigation and prosecution of these crimes, and swiftly work to provide a safe haven for the marginalized.” He did not.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also sent Trump a letter in early May, pushing him to “set aside the Administration’s refugee ban and reduction in the refugee ceiling, and declare a priority refugee designation for LGBT Russians.” He did not.

Trump’s refusal to take action speaks volumes. While the president of the United States stands silent, there are some things you can do to help. You can contact Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and demand that she condemn the attacks. You can also contact Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and demand that he do the same; he failed to do so in his May meeting in Russia. Tillerson’s official mailing address is below.

The Honorable Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

You can also donate to the Russian LGBT Network, which has opened a refuge center in Moscow and is working to help evacuate those affected by the violence in Chechnya.

(Via The Advocate; image via Shutterstock)

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