Media reports on alleged persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya: Novaya Gazeta claims that the Chechen authorities have detained in Chechnya more than 100 men suspected of being homosexual. According to the newspaper, "at least three men had been killed." However, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's spokesman, Alvi Karimov, has dismissed the reports and said that "men in Chechnya have only one orientation." (ii) The Chechen parliament has adopted a bill which would allow schoolgirls to wear hijabs in schools. (Gazeta.ru, Novaya Gazeta)
Two policemen killed in Astrakhan attack: Two police policemen were killed in an attack by unidentified assailants last night in Astrakhan. A source in the regional law enforcement agencies claimed that the assailants drove a Gazelle van with vehicle registration plates registered in Dagestan. Later, the van was found abandoned near a village located about 10 km from Astrakhan. Astrakhan governor Zhilkin said the attack had been perpetrated by a group of radical Wahhabi Islamists. (Gazeta.ru, Interfax)
Amnesty International calls on Russia to investigate reports on alleged persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya: Amnesty International has called on the Russian authorities to investigate reports on torture and killings of homosexual men in Chechnya. Novaya Gazeta reported on the alleged persecution in Chechnya of men suspected of being homosexual. The newspaper claimed that more than 100 people have been detained and at least three people have been killed in Chechnya. (Echo Moskvy, RIAN)
Finance Ministry's new agreements with subsidised regions: The Finance Ministry (MinFin) signed agreements with all subsidised regions, that is 72 of them, which envisages sanctions for weak budgetary discipline. They will be deprived of 5% of subsidies from the federal centre, if they do not increase their tax and non-tax revenues or fail to consolidate their budgets. The largest subsidies are received by Dagestan (52bn roubles), Yakutia (36.6bn roubles), and Kamchatka (37bn roubles). (Izvestia)
Vedomosti, 10 April
'The Law of Chechnya'
Vedomosti comments on reactions of officials in Moscow and in Chechnya to recent publications on the large-scale persecution and raids on homosexual men in Chechnya, which either denied the existence of the problem or refused to take the responsibility for the tragedy. For the daily, the problem lies in the political status of the region, which allows federal authorities to ignore uncomfortable questions.
Radio Svobody, 8 April
Following up the recently published investigation of Novaya Gazeta on 'secret prisons' for gay men in the Chechen town of Argun, Radio Svobody reported on the existence of another secret prison located in the village of Tsotsi-Yurt. This information was provided in an interview by three men, who have left Chechnya. According to the interviewees, detentions of gays by employees of the District Police Department began in December 2016.
Three militants killed in Dagestan: Three militants, including a suspected ringleader, have been killed on Tuesday evening in Dagestan. (MK, Kommersant.ru)
Threats to Novaya Gazeta: Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta said in a statement that it received threats coming from Chechnya following the newspaper's publication on the alleged persecution of gay men in Chechnya. Putin's spokesman Peskov is quoted as saying on Friday that the Kremlin has received a letter from Novaya Gazeta chief editor Dmitry Muratov about threats. (Gazeta.ru, Novaya Gazeta; see also editorial lines)
Novaya Gazeta, 14 April
'Statement in connection with explicit threats addressed at the editor'
Novaya Gazeta publishes a statement in reaction to explicit threats that the newspaper had received following its report on mass arrests and torture of Chechen residents suspected of "non-traditional sexual orientation": 'We have serious concerns about the safety of our employees'.
According to the newspaper, three days after the publication, a meeting with representatives of religious communities, Islamic scholars and opinion leaders took place in Chechnya, whereby Adam Shahidov, advisor to Chechnya's head Ramzan Kadyrov, publicly accused Novaya Gazeta reporters of defamation, identifying them as "enemies of our faith and our homeland". Besides, the resolution adopted during the meeting, so the statement of Novaya Gazeta 'is pushing religious fanatics to violence against journalists'.
Income declarations: Press reports widely on publication of Russian officials' income declarations for 2016. According to the income declaration, President Putin earned 8.858 million roubles in 2016. PM Medvedev declared the income of 8.586 million roubles last year. Minister for North Caucasus Affairs Lev Kuznetsov topped the list of Cabinet members in terms of income: he earned 582 million roubles in 2016. The first deputy head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko has declared the income of 85.5 million roubles. United Russia Duma deputy Andrey Palkin topped the list of Duma deputies in terms of income: he earned 678.5 million roubles in 2016. Valery Ponomaryov has become the richest member of the Federation Council: he earned 2.6 billion roubles last year. (Gazeta.ru, RBK, RG, Vedomosti; see also editorial lines)
Prosecutors in Chechnya investigate reports on persecution of gay men: Prosecutors in Chechnya have launched an investigation into media reports on the alleged persecution of gay men in Chechnya. The Russian Investigative Committee said that investigators are checking reported threats to Novaya Gazeta's journalists after the publication of an article on alleged detentions and torture of gay men in Chechnya. (MT, TASS; see also 'blog monitoring')
Anton Orekh comments on the recent announcement that Russian prosecutors will investigate reports about the alleged persecution of gay men in Chechnya. Although positively surprised about the sole fact of the start of an investigation, Orekh does not expect any substantive results. On the contrary, most likely the Chechen prosecutors will not look into details of the media report, but for more gays in Chechnya. All this could happen, Orekh claims, because Putin was afraid of another confrontation with Chechnya.
Russian Ombudsman: no reports on alleged abductions in Chechnya submitted: Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova said on Tuesday that law enforcement agencies had not received reports on alleged abductions in Chechnya. Referring to mass detentions during an unauthorised rally on 26 March in Moscow, Moskalkova drew attention to instances of ungrounded detentions (NG). (Gazeta.ru, Interfax, NG)
RBK Daily, 19 April
'Why the story about the persecution of gays in Chechnya is important for the whole country'
In an article for RKB Daily, gender expert Irina Kosterina discusses why the scandal over the alleged persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya could become a test for homophobia for the whole Russia.
The logic of Chechen officials, suggesting the absence of LGBT people in public spaces also holds true for Russia: people of non-traditional sexual orientation don’t have a place here.
Therefore, the development of the scandal up to the international level and the formal appeal to Russian authorities to investigate the situation in Chechnya could be the beginning of a lengthy and difficult process of 'healing' from homophobia, not only in Chechnya, but also throughout Russia.
Chechnya's Kadyrov denies reports on detentions in Chechnya: Meeting with President Putin on Wednesday, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied reports on alleged detentions and murders in Chechnya and branded articles about Chechnya as "provocative." Putin, in turn, asked Kadyrov about a recent attack on a unit of the Russian National Guard in Chechnya. At the meeting, Kadyrov also said that he and Rosneft head Igor Sechin had found common ground and agreed on cooperation. Earlier on Wednesday, Kadyrov and Sechin held a meeting at Rosneft's headquarters to discuss "issues related to the company's operations in Chechnya." Commenting on Putin's meeting with Kadyrov, Putin's spokesman Peskov said that reports on the persecution of gay men in Chechnya have not been confirmed. (Gazeta.ru, Interfax, Kommersant; http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/54342; https://www.rosneft.com/press/news/item/186269/)
St. Petersburg journalist dies after being beaten; envelope containing white powder delivered to Novaya Gazeta: Journalist and co-founder of the 'Novy Peterburg' newspaper Nikolai Andrushchenko died in a hospital after being beaten by unidentified attackers more than a month ago. His colleagues link the attack to the journalist's publications. (ii) Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta on Wednesday received an envelope containing a white powder. The envelope's return address was indicated as 'Grozny' (capital of Chechnya). Experts said that the powder posed no threat. (Kommersant, Novaya Gazeta; Ekho Moskvy; Fontanka.ru, MT)
Putin's meeting with Kadyrov: Commenting on Wednesday's meeting between President Putin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta remarks that Putin demonstrated support for Kadyrov, while at the same time pointed to certain shortcomings. Putin's spokesman Peskov told journalists that reports on the persecution of gay men in Chechnya had not been confirmed, but added that the Russian Investigative Committee and the Russian Human Rights Ombudsman were checking the information. (Gazeta.ru, NG)
Kremlin spokesman: law enforcement agencies have no information on alleged persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya: Putin's spokesman Peskov said on Monday that the Kremlin had no reasons to suspect that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov could have provided untrue information to the President on the situation of LGBT people in Chechnya. Peskov also said that Russian law enforcement agencies had not received information about the persecution of sexual minorities in Chechnya. (Interfax, Novaya Gazeta, TASS)
Poll: Russians' attitudes towards labour migrants worsen: A survey by the Levada-Centre showed that Russians' attitudes towards labour migrants have worsened over the past ten years. According to the survey, Russians have most negative attitudes toward labour migrants from the North Caucasus and Central Asia. (Vedomosti; http://www.levada.ru/2017/04/28/otnoshenie-k-trudovym-migrantam/)