Meet the journalist who exposed Chechnya’s anti-gay purge
Over a hundred men were rounded up in Chechnya and subjected to humiliation and torture, upon suspicion of being gay. After the story broke, this campaign was launched calling on Russia’s Prosecutor General to investigate and has been signed by over 270,000 people across the world.
Change.org’s Director of Russia, Dmitry Savelau, interviewed Elena Milashena, the journalist who broke the story, for Dazed magazine.
Dmitry: You went into hiding after the publication of the story – are you still doing so?
Elena: Yes. In order for me to continue my work effectively, I have made the decision to go to a different country for some time. It was a difficult decision, but I am now in a country where I can safely continue working, and I intend to continue travelling to Chechnya too.
Dmitry: And what is the situation now at the office of Novaya Gazeta? It was reported that you have received mail with an unknown white substance in it.
Elena: That’s right. We have received two letters containing white powder. I am not sure what it was, but I bet it’s washing powder. It was probably someone’s bad joke.
Dmitry: Over 270,000 people from all over the world have signed a petition asking for the Prosecutor General to start an investigation into the attacks. Do you think support from people outside of Russia can really make a difference in stopping the horrors in Chechnya?
Elena: Absolutely! You already see the results of such influence. We’ve got so far already thanks to people all over the world. In Russia, nobody has influence like this – nobody is really going to stand up for LGBT people here. I have never seen anything like this before: the way LGBT groups and organisations are helping Chechen gay men at the moment is incredible. But in terms of the Russian society, there is no one really who can influence decisions on this matter…
If you would like to sign the petition, you can find it here.