Russian LGBT Network appealed to the ECHR on behalf of a Chechen who died as a result of mass persecution of LGBT

The Russian LGBT Network appealed to the ECHR on behalf of Arbi Altemirov who fell victim to a mass campaign organized by the Chechen authorities against LGBT people. The appeal concerns violation of the article 2 (Right to life), article 3 (Prohibition of torture), article 5 (Right to liberty and security), article 13 (Right to an effective remedy), article 14 (Prohibition of discrimination) and article 34 (Individual applications) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This is the second appeal to the ECHR concerning persecution of LGBT in Chechnya.

Arbi Altemirov had never been an open homosexual, he was married and fostered a son. However, in the end of February 2017, he was arrested on suspicion of homosexuality and had been restrained for more than 2 weeks in the so-called “argun gay prison”. At least four people confirmed that they saw him there. The eyewitnesses say that he was beaten so severely that his skin burst and his wounds festered.

In the first days of March Altemirov and other persons detained on suspicion of homosexuality were returned to their families with recommendations to kill them and “wipe out shame off their families.” On the 8th of March, Altemirov died in his house in presence of his family members and was buried on the same day. Only 26 days later, the death certificate was issued. It read that Altemirov died from thromboembolism. In spite of the unexpected death of the healthy middle-aged man the autopsy was not performed.

On the 1st of April 2017, “Novaya Gazeta” for the first time published information on mass persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya. On the 18th of April, a preliminary inquiry started but the Investigative Committee for the North Caucasus Federal Area several times denied to institute criminal proceedings. After both the Yessentuki City Court and the Stavropol Regional Court validated the denial, the Russian LGBT Network decided to appeal to the ECHR.

Veronika Lapina, the Russian LGBT Network

“The Altemirov’s appeal is unique because in this situation a dead person is represented by a charitable organization, not by his family. However, there was such a precedent in the ECHR before: in July 2014, the ECHR acted favorably on the case “Câmpeanu vs Romania”, thus legalizing succession in cases with no relatives ready to represent dead person. The Strasbourg Court stated that in that case a non-profit organization had a right to defend i the victim’s interests although no violations were committed against the organization.

At the present time the Russian LGBT Network is the only party ready to stand up for Altemirov considering the fact that the file on his death contains records of  his relatives’ evidence contradictory to medical certification of the cause of his death. Moreover, they persistently reject even the very fact of his detainment.

Taking into consideration the persecution of LGBT in Chechnya, numerous statements from State officials that “there are no gays in Chechnya,” and public approval of “honor killings” of gays and lesbians we understand that his family will never file an application to stand up for him. Since 2017, we have been registering not only facts of violation of rights of LGBT but also facts of pressure upon their families. So we cannot rely on his family.”

First reports of mass persecutions of LGBT in Chechnya appeared in mass media in April 2017. At the same time, the Russian LGBT Network started the helpline [email protected] and appealed to everyone who suffered of police brutality for his or her sexual orientation to resort to it for help.