World

Macron Urges Putin To Aid Gay Men In Chechnya

| by Simone Stover

During Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to France, he and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation regarding the abuses of gay men in the Russian republic of Chechnya. 

Back in April, CNN reported that there had been allegations of mass arrest and torture of gay men within Chechnya. In addition, it was reported that Muslim clerics within the country (Chechnya is a primarily Muslim country) had issued threats against journalists had who had written stories about such abuses. At the time, the Russian government said it had no confirmation of the mistreatment of gay Chechen men.

Since initial reports of the situation in Chechnya surfaced, several men have reportedly escaped Chechnya and are now in hiding. One man at a safe house spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity and described the abuses that he underwent.

"They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me," the man said. "Then they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They've got special equipment, which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground."

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According to Tatiana Vinnichenko of the Russian LGBT Network, Chechnya is not safe for gay men, even those who have already been arrested and returned to their families. 

"When they were handed back by the police to their relatives in Chechnya, they were 'outed.' The police told the relatives, 'You know what you have to do.' They encouraged the relatives to kill their own flesh and blood," she told CNN.

The situation in Chechnya was one of the many topics discussed during the meeting between Putin and Macron, which -- according to ABC News -- lasted over two hours. Before the leaders' meeting, protestors stood in front of the Eiffel Tower with a sign written in French that translated to: "Stop homophobia in Chechnya."

During the meeting, Macron reportedly expressed thoughts in line with those of the protestors. 

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"I emphasized to President Putin ... how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities," Macron said during a news conference with Putin, according to CNN. "We spoke about the cases of LGBT people in Chechnya. ... I told President Putin what France is expecting regarding this issue, and we agreed to regularly check on this subject."

Macron's expectations of Putin are in line with other world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a meeting with Putin on May 2, Merkel urged Putin to guarantee the safety of gay individuals within Chechnya. 

In addition to the abuse of gay men within Chechnya, the two leaders also discussed other issues, according to ABC News. Included among them were a discussion of anti-terror efforts in addition to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Sources: CNN (2, 3), ABC News / Photo credit: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS​/Flickr

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