Early reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy. Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that there are over a hundred men detained for being gay over the last two weeks. People are living in fear of violent raids. There was initially little verification of the claims from the remote region, which is largely closed off from the centre of Russia.
However the reports have now been separately confirmed by Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted for detention.
In its report, HRW confirmed: “The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground. The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.” Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, told the New Tork Times: “I got numerous, numerous signals… it came from too many sources not to be true.” Even delivering the information is very difficult… they are just small islands, isolated.”