One Year Since The ‘Gay Purge’ In Chechnya: Still No Acknowledgement Of Responsibility Or Justice For Victims

A year ago, the Russian Federation committed egregious human rights violations by targeting the LGBT Russian Community. The government cast-away and abducted gay Russian men so they could be sent to Chechnya, where they were written off from mainstream society, tortured, and killed. This ‘cleansing’ of sorts was referred to as a ‘gay purge’ by many media outlets. The testimonies given by some of these victims, coupled with the circumstantial and physical evidence corroborating this ‘purge,’ make it an undeniable legitimate tragedy. Amnesty International claims that of the 116 people rescued from Chechnya by Russian LGBT activists, 98 have opted to leave Russia behind in its entirety and relocate throughout the world.

This tragedy makes the news once again, as one year has passed and the Russian Government still denies these events ever took place. Russian Human Rights groups and activists have taken the initiative in denouncing their country for these actions and trying to instate protective measures against State abuse, but only the government can ensure legal protection and criminal prosecution. Russian government officials have laughed these accusations off, refused an official investigation into Chechnya, and have denied all credible evidence proving State violations did take place. To this day, Russia and the international world have not been presented with any perpetrators or criminal convictions for the ‘purge’ in Chechnya. Not only is the invalidation of these events difficult for the victims, but it also implies that something like this could happen again.

This is a gross violation of international human rights norms and precedents. This statement is grave enough as it stands but, further worsened as we must acknowledge these violations were committed by one of the world’s superpowers – Russia. From this acknowledgment, we must question the international community and its governance as a whole. The globe is well aware that Russia is particular in its government and political style. It claims to be Communist, yet also boasts of a democratic election system. However, the globe is also aware that the way Russia presents itself superficially is not consistent with the way it operates domestically. The Russian human rights record is bleak, and even though Putin and his government are promising its improvement over the years, this ‘gay purge’ disproves this completely. Fellow world superpowers and international organizations know that Russia is far from democratic and tolerant, so why do they continue to support it?  

From a realist perspective, we cannot ignore the fact that international politics are not devoid of domestic self-interest – whether that be economically or politically. With this being said, it comes as no surprise that countries claiming to be liberal and democratic, like the U.S. and European nations, turn a blind eye to Russian international norm violations. However, the biggest concern is not with countries, but with international organizations. Russia is in the United Nations Security Council, thus having great influence and power over the functionality of the UN. If Russia itself cannot uphold international human rights norms and precedents domestically, why are they given the power to dictate their instatements and functionalities within the world’s largest international organization? It is time for the UN, and all other big IO’s & NGO’s claiming to care about the just enforcement of human rights, to evaluate if having countries like Russia, who willingly ignore the freedoms of their citizens, is morally correct.