Urgent Interventions

Death threats against Igor Kochetkov, Executive Director of the Russian LGBT Network


RUS 002 / 0219 / OBS 010


Russian Federation
February 1, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership ofFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests yourintervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the death threatsagainst Mr. Igor Kochetkov, Executive Director of the Russian LGBTNetwork and long-standing defender of LGBT rights in Russia.

Accordingto the information received, a video message directed at Mr. Igor Kochetkov andthe Russian LGBT Network was spread on - or around - January 29, 2019, throughlocal social networking sites. In the message, Mr. Ali Baskhanov, a Chechenpublic figure and a representative of the organising committee of “Noah's Ark”,an informal group of pro-government Chechen activists, threatens to harm Mr.Kochetkov if he does not relent from public denunciations of repressions thatwere carried out by Chechen authorities against LGBT persons in Chechnyathroughout 2017 and 2018.

Inthe recording, Mr. Baskhanov, wearing military fatigues, verbally assaults Mr.Kochetkov and warns him that in case he “does not stop and does not leave theChechen Republic in peace”, this will be his end. Echoing earlier statements byChechen officials, including Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov, who stated onnumerous occasions that gays do not exist in the Republic and that human rightsdefenders are not welcome in Chechnya, Mr. Baskhanov denies the existence ofLGBT persons in the Republic. Mr. Kochetkov and the Russian LGBT Network areplanning to submit a formal complaint to the Investigative Committee of Russiato compel an investigation of these publicly voiced threats.

OnJanuary 29, 2019, a few hours before receiving the threats, the Russian LGBTNetwork had submitted a complaint to the Investigative Committee of Russiaasking it to probe into allegations of illegal detention, as well as tortureand at least one murder, of at least 14 LGBT individuals in the Zavodskoypolice department and in the Grozny building of the Ministry of InternalAffairs of Russia. The organisation seeks to compel the Russian authorities toreact to the most recent wave of detention of LGBT persons and anti-gaycampaigns by security forces in the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Theabove-mentioned death threats against Mr. Kochetkov are believed to be aresponse to the complaint filed by his NGO, and to its previous actions toprotect the rights of LGBT persons in Chechnya.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the death threats against Mr. Igor Kochetkov andcalls on the Russian authorities to immediately carry out an independent andthorough investigation into these threats and ensure that those responsible areheld to account and that all human rights defenders are able to carry out theirlegitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Background information

First information about the mass repression targetinggay men in Chechnya appeared in the spring of 2017. Based on the informationsupplied in large part by the LGBT Network, a number of media outlets reportedthe arrest of over 100 individuals between February and April 2017, many ofwhom were tortured and murdered by Chechen authorities. These reports alsorevealed the existence of secret prisons used to detain gays or those suspectedof homosexuality in the region where the tortures took place. In July, theRussian LGBT Network published a report documenting the persecution and tortureof LGBT persons in the North Caucasus[1].The Network has played a leading role in providing help to victims of therepression, among others by setting up an emergency aid hotline for LGBT victimsof hate crimes. Since spring 2017, the Russian LGBT Network evacuated about 150people from the region. More than 130 of them had left Russia.

Mr. Igor Kochetkov, who undertook the role of thespokesperson of the Russian LGBT Network, was instrumental in advocating for aneffective investigation and accountability for these crimes. His advocacybefore national authorities and the Organisation for Security and Co-operationin Europe (OSCE) led to the international investigation into grave human rightsviolations in Chechnya within the legal framework of the so-called Moscowmechanism. The report delivered by the Mechanism, set up by 16 OSCEParticipating States, confirmed the systematic use of torture and extrajudicialkillings of LGBTI persons in Chechnya in the spring of 2017.

After a brief respite, a new wave of persecutions beganin December 2018 in Grozny shortly after the publication of the MoscowMechanism report. About 40 people were detained in Chechnya on suspicion ofhomosexuality: victims were brutally beaten and tortured with electricity, atleast two of them were tortured to death by security forces.

Actions requested:

Pleasewrite to the authorities of Russia asking them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being of Mr. Igor Kochetkov and all human rights defenders in the country;

ii.Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation intothe above-mentioned threats against Mr. Igor Kochetkov in order to identify allthose responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction themas provided by the law;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, againstMr. Igor Kochetkov, any member of the LGBT Network, and all human rightsdefenders in the country;

iv.Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders are able to carry outtheir legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

v.Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on HumanRights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, inparticular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by the Russian Federation.


  • Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 606 3602; + 7 495 625 3581
  • Mr. Dimitri Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @MedvedevRussia
  • Mr. Sergueï Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203
  • Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail:
  • Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail:
  • Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email:

Please also writeto the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva,February 1, 2019

Kindly inform usof any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact theObservatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail:
  • Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

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