Two gay men reportedly forcibly returned from Russia to their native Chechnya were taken to the local security services and are in “mortal danger”, a campaign group has warned.
The Russian LGBT Network said that Salek Magadamov and Ismail Isaev, who is under 18, were taken to the OMVD (interior ministry) in Gudermes on Saturday.
The network says that last June it helped the couple escape the Chechen Republic, a Russian region where there have been many reports of people being persecuted for their sexual orientation.
This followed their detention and alleged torture in April, related to their work as moderators for the opposition Telegram channel Osal Nakh 95.
Magadamov and Isaev were detained by police on Thursday last week in their apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, about 420 kilometres east of Moscow, the Russian LGBT Network said. They were then taken to Chechnya by car.
Their lawyer has travelled to Chechnya where the interior ministry had refused him access to the couple, the rights group said on Saturday. For two days the detainees have been “pushed” to refuse his services, it added.
The NGO says it established that the couple’s arrest was carried out jointly by Russian and Chechen police.
It has launched multiple appeals to Russian authorities and says it has filed a petition with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Since 2017 there have been numerous reports of persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, where leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied that gay people exist.
In 2019 a fresh crackdown brought more detentions and two reported murders in the predominantly Muslim region.