GROZNY, September 20. /TASS/. Chechnya’s investigative authorities have opened 18 criminal cases over missing people, Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova told TASS.
"There are criminal cases, investigations are underway. The cases concern 18 missing persons out of 31," she said adding that two people were said to have died naturally.
"I will probe into that, but this information has been provided by law enforcement authorities. Another two people are alive, the authorities have pledged to ask them to come," Moskalkova added.
Several publications in Russia’s Novaya Gazeta daily earlier claimed that in Chechnya, people were being persecuted, detained and even killed over their non-traditional sexual orientation. The daily claimed that some people were detained during special operations in Chechnya, and killed afterwards. On September 1, Moskalkova said that she had held a video call with family members of the alleged victims of persecution.
"Yesterday I insisted that the North Caucasus Criminal Investigation Division initiate a case over each report concerning missing people and launch investigations," the Russian human rights ombudsperson pointed out. She said earlier that a member of her office would remain in the region in order to check all the information and figure out what happened to the people mentioned in the Novaya Gazeta publications. Besides, Moskalkova plans to meet with two residents of Chechnya whom the daily had listed as killed.
On Tuesday, Moskalkova flew to Chechnya’s capital of Grozny to meet with local residents, law enforcement officers and human right defenders.
On April 1, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta daily raised the issue of gay people’s civil rights being violated in Chechnya. In an article entitled "Honor Killing," the daily reported, citing anonymous sources in law enforcement agencies and unnamed victims, that some residents of Chechnya had been detained and allegedly killed over their non-traditional sexual orientation.
Chechnya’s Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights said that after assessing the situation it had found neither direct, nor indirect evidence to back up these allegations.
On May 5, Moskalkova informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that she had been tackling violations of LGBT people’s rights and asked him to issue instructions on setting up an inter-agency working group that would be active in Central Russia instead of Chechnya and receive people’s requests if any were made.