A 28-year-old gay Chechen refugee was arrested Wednesday at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport as he tried to return to the Netherlands, according to Russian LGBTQ+ advocacy group SK SOS. He was traveling home after attending his father’s funeral.
SK SOS posted video of the arrest to Telegram and Instagram.
Magomed Tushayev was a top advisor to the Chechen head of state and an active part of the republic’s “purge” of LGBTQ people.
In the footage, Idris Arsamikov is seen being led by an unidentified agent in plainclothes into a secured area behind bars, as his lawyer urges him to resist, according to the organization’s translation of the incident.
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“The agent who came to pick up Idris at Domodedovo did not present documents to local police and refused to inform his lawyer about the detainee’s status,” SK SOS wrote in a post accompanying the video. “We believe Arsamikov is now being taken to Chechnya, where he faces mortal danger.”
Banned Russian news outlet Meduza reported from Latvia that Arsamikov suffered a panic attack as he was led through the airport, prompting authorities to call an ambulance.
According to SK SOS, Arsamikov was first detained by Chechen authorities in the summer of 2018, when he was tortured by security forces seeking a confession that he was gay and in a same-sex relationship. SK SOS helped Arsamikov flee Chechnya and settle in the Netherlands.
Arsamikov’s arrest Wednesday was reportedly made after Chechen authorities issued an all-points bulletin for his capture, based on a fraud case brought against him in 2021.
According to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Chechen authorities arrested and tortured more than 150 people in the war-torn region of Russia from 2017 to 2020, in what is commonly referred to by diplomats and activists as a “gay purge.”
Human Rights Watch and other organizations have reported systematic homophobic violence under the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen Republic’s authoritarian leader and an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The 2020 documentary Welcome To Chechnya reported the ordeal of gay Chechen Maxim Lapunov and others with harrowing footage recorded on mobile phones and CCTV cameras, documenting the use of torture, terror, and concentration camps to exterminate the LGBTQ+ population in the former breakaway republic.
The Chechen leader has laughed off the accusations.
“This is nonsense,” Kadyrov responded when asked about the allegations. “We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”