GROZNY, November 16. /TASS/. Chechen authorities are ready to forgive Movsar Eskerkhanov, who has apologized for his interview with the Time magazine, in which he confessed to be gay and said that LGBT people were allegedly persecuted in Chechnya, the Chechen Republic’s Minister for National Policy, External Ties, Press and Information Dzhambulat Umarov told TASS.
Russia’s Novaya Gazeta daily said earlier that some residents of Chechnya had been detained and allegedly tortured and killed over their non-traditional sexual orientation.
Eskerkhanov later gave an interview to the Time magazine, becoming the first Chechen to openly call himself gay. He then filed an application for asylum in Germany but it was rejected. After that, Chechnya’s Grozny TV channel showed a fragment of his other interview, in which Eskerkhanov asked the government and people of Chechnya, as well as Chechens living in other parts of Russia and Europe, to forgive him. He said that western reporters had roped him in and disgraced him in the eyes of the Chechen people.
"Here in Chechnya, we have a tough approach only to explicit enemies, traitors and those who seek to damage their own people behind the backs of the sick and deceived," Umarov said. "Definitely, people will understand Eskerkhanov and feel sorry for him… We are no cannibals, we can understand everything and we never bear grudges… If God accepts repentance then why shouldn’t we?" Umarov said.
Reliance on family values
According to Umarov, a resolution "on the family canon" has recently been adopted in Chechnya, which is based on the customs and traditions of the Chechen people, as well as on the precepts of Islam.
The Chechen minister added that homosexuality was unacceptable for the people of the Caucasus. "Imposing homosexuality on the followers of religions that are focused on preserving family values is like planting a time bomb," Umarov continued, adding that "in this particular case, the attack targets not only Russian Muslims, but also followers of other traditional religions."
He also said that the western media had invented an issue that Chechnya had never faced. "Our culture is filled with masculinity, love to our country and families. As we continue to honor our traditions, the head of the Chechen Republic has signed a concept of the spiritual and moral education of the youth," Umarov noted, stressing that Chechens adopted traditional views on the roles of man and woman in early childhood.
LGBT rights issue
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 tortured and 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.
In May, Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova informed 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.