Russia has lost the chance to appoint its expert for the investigation of severe human rights violations in Chechnya

Russian Federal authorities ignored the information on the invocation of the OSCE Moscow mechanism, and lost the opportunity to propose its expert for the international investigation. According to the procedures of the Moscow mechanism, Moscow was supposed to react and subsequently propose its candidate. The coalition of OSCE countries that invoked the Moscow Mechanism has already appointed the expert who will investigate the information on severe human rights violations in Chechnya.

Russian LGBT Network’s Executive Director Igor Kochetkov pointed out that an independent inquiry will be carry out regardless of the willingness of the Russian Federation to cooperate with the mission. Since April 2017, the Russian LGBT Network evacuated more than 130 people; most of them have already found sanctuary out of Russia. It suggests that even if Russia opposes the investigation, the expert will be able to work with the survivors outside of the country.

As a human rights defender Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya put it, “an international pressure and international human rights mechanisms have limited impact on the Situation in Russia and particularly in Chechnya.” However, “external pressure and public attention can stop mass and the most severe violations.” It is hoped that mere fact of the international investigation may have positive implications for Oyub Titiev.

Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya adds that despite the attention of international institutions severe mass violations of human rights in Chechnya persist. “Chechnya remains the only totalitarian enclave in Europe. We can only hope for some systemic changes. However, the perpetrators should know that the investigation procedures were already initiated, and at some point they will be punished according to law”.

On November 1, 2018, sixteen members-states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation invoked the Moscow Mechanism of Human Dimension to investigate the reports of severe human rights violations in the Chechen Republic, including the reports on mass state-orchestrated campaigns against LGBT. Within the framework of the Moscow Mechanism, a mission of appointed experts will carry out an independent inquiry.

The first reports on the mass persecution of LGBT in Chechnya were released in April 2017. For the last 18 months, the Russian LGBT Network made plenty of efforts to attract the attention of the Russian authorities to these persecutions. Despite the recommendations of many international institutions to conduct an adequate investigation, the official representatives of Russia continue claiming that “there are no gays in Chechnya,” thus reinforcing the climate of impunity for the Chechen authorities.