A Chechen man who came out in a Time
interview, then apologized on national television, now says he
was coerced into making the statement.
Movsar Eskarkhanov fled to Germany
seeking asylum to escape the persecution he faced in Chechnya for
Time published its story as
details about an ongoing gay purge in Chechnya surfaced. According
to those reports, later confirmed by Human Rights Watch, authorities
in the conservative Russian republic rounded up dozens of men
suspected of being gay and tortured them in secret prisons.
Authorities would then tell the families of the men that they were
detained because of their sexual orientation, which would set off
additional attacks and, in some cases, honor killings.
The violence that chased Eskarkhanov
out of Russia also followed him to Germany, where Chechens, upon
learning that he was gay, attacked him.
From a refugee shelter on the outskirts
of Berlin, Eskarkhanov
that he wanted to tell his story to the world “before somebody
“[F]or gay Chechens it doesn't matter
where we go,” he said. “We can go to Mars. If there are other
Chechens there, they will never let us live in peace.”
Eskarkhanov then fell off the radar.
He reappeared a few months later on state television to apologize for
“disgracing” Chechnya. In his November 13 apology, he said that
he had been under the influence of epilepsy medication.
On Monday, Eskarkhanov said that he was
forced to make the statement.
“They made it clear that if I
continue to talk, there would be problems,” he told the Kavkazsky
Uzel news website.
“They said that I must first think
about my family. I was also told that if I continue to speak again,
I would have problems,” Eskarkhanov said on Russian-language
channel RTVI, The
Moscow Times reported.