Months after the first reports of LGBTQ people — namely gay and bisexual men — being arrested, detained, and tortured in Chechnya, the first survivor has come forward publicly about his experiences.
Maxim Lapunov was detained on March 16 and held for 12 days in a cellar of the "secret prison" in Grozny, according to independent local newspaper Novoya Gazeta, which originally reported the arrests.
"Every 10-15 minutes we ran into the cell with screams and shouted that I was gay, that people like me should be killed. It was all intimidating," he told Novoya Gazeta, according to a translation. Lapunov said that many people were tortured in the cell where he was held before him, which he knew because "the cell was full of blood."
While there, he said, he was beaten with sticks on his hands and feet until he fell and said, "I was sure they would kill me." When his parents learned of his arrest, they also thought they'd never see their son alive again, according to a tweet from Lapunov's press conference.
Lapunov isn't the first survivor out of Chechnya to tell stories of torture, but he's the first to put his face and name on his experience. He told the newspaper that he won't allow "a bunch of bastards," to drive him from Russia and said, the "only thing that I would like at the moment is justice."
When the arrests were first reported in April, a suspected more than 100 gay men had been arrested and three had been killed. As of July, Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, still denies that violence against gay men is happening in Chechnya.
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