Speculations that Chechnya had detained and tortured over 100 gay men have been circulating since Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on the atrocious acts back in April, according to NBC News.
Though NBC News reported that three or more men had been killed, PinkNews reported that number could be as high as 26. A couple of those men escaped to Moscow and have spoken with NPR about their horrible experiences, which included being kidnapped and beaten. While these men, as well as 30–40 others, have been fortunate enough to escape, many are still being subjected to awful human rights violations.
Though the U.S. Department of State has condemned Chechnya's actions — with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley calling on authorities to "immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses" — Human Rights First noted that President Donald Trump has yet to give a single public comment on the dire situation.
With hundreds of stories circulating about the White Houses's ties to Russia, few reports of anti-LGBTQ violence within the region are making headlines, which is exactly why MTV created a new campaign called #EyesOnChechnya, according to PinkNews. MTV writes that the campaign aims to "raise the volume on the public outcry, and let the world know that we have our #EyesOnChechnya" on its website.
The campaign has gained support from a number of celebrities, including Lena Dunham, RuPaul, Tituss Burgess, Mara Wilson, and Nev Schulman.
There's still a lot of work to be done if we're going to achieve justice for the LGBTQ Chechens who have been or could potentially be targeted, especially since Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov blatantly denies that not only are people being tortured, but also that any gay men even live in the Russian republic.
According to The Washington Post, Kadyrov spoke with HBO's David Scott and said: "We don't have those kinds of people here. We don't have gays. If there are any, take them to Canada."
But his comments only grew worse.
"Praise be to god," Kadyrov said. "Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them."