Jinkx Monsoon and more join Chechnya Crisis Appeal in new video

Jinkx Monsoon

LGBTI influencers have joined the appeal launched by Gay Star News to raise funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people in Chechnya.

In 2017, local opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported anti-LGBTI purges were taking place in the country. People have been detained and tortured, with many killed in extrajudicial killings, for being perceived to be LGBTI since.

Earlier this year, GSN has launched a fundraiser for the Russian LGBT+ network. The aim is to help them evacuate and raise awareness of the situation. The initial target was set at £12,000 but was exceeded due to the overwhelming support of LGBTIs and allies.

But more can be done as saving LGBTI lives is a costly exercise. The estimated cost of safely evacuate one person from Chechnya is about US$5,108 (€4,500). The campaign will officially end on 10 April.

Who’s in the video?

Drag queen and RPDR winner Jinkx Monsoon has joined the plea, alongside Dr. Ranj Singh.

Queer singer and The Deuce actress Kat Cunnings has also taken part in the appeal, together with Maria Alyokhina of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot.

They are also urging the US government to publicly condemn the atrocities perpetrated in Chechnya and call for an investigation, together with other 32 other countries.

Chechnya Crisis Appeal

As well as using our investigative journalism to keep you informed about what’s happening on-the-ground as it happens; we’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Crisis Appeal.

Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.

Read also:

Europe politicians slam Russia for failing to tackle gay purge in Chechnya

You did it: Chechnya Crisis Appeal raises over $12k to fight LGBTI purge

Trump administration is continuing to ignore Chechnya LGBTI crisis

Author: Stefania Sarrubba

The post Jinkx Monsoon and more join Chechnya Crisis Appeal in new video appeared first on Gay Star News.

Do these celebs know their ‘friend’ is now overseeing the murder of LGBTs?

Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov hates LGBTI people.

Kadyrov made that very clear when he vowed to eliminate all gay men in Chechnya and then called gay people ‘devils’ and urged them all to move to Canada.

He also said he approves of (and actively encourages) families to kill their own gay children.

The Chechen dictator has continually denied even the existence of LGBTI people in the Russian republic.

This is despite worldwide condemnation – including from the United Nations, HRC and Council of Europe – of the concentration-like camps across Chechnya.

Kadyrov has been in power since 2007 and tends to rule the country in accordance with traditional Islamic social codes, even if these contravene Russian law.

Throughout his leadership, the Council of Europe has condemned the use of torture in Chechnya, renewing this condemnation this year.

Ramzan Kadyrov’s huge Instagram following

Despite all of his numerous human rights abuses, he’s amassed a collection of seemingly random celebrity connections. He’s also documented most of the experiences on his now-deleted Instagram account.

Kadyrov had a huge presence on Instagram, with over three million followers.

But on 20 December 2017, the United States imposed sanctions and blacklisted Kadyrov, accusing him of personal involvement in repression, torture and murder of US officials.

He took to Instagram to mock the sanctions: ‘A sleepless night is waiting for me.’

Just three days later, Kadyrov awoke to find his Instagram and Facebook account suspended.

He posted on an alternate social media account via Telegram: ‘Instagram’s move, which still wants to pretend it is independent from officials of Washington, is weird.’

His account has been suspended ever since, except for a couple of hours in November last year when Instagram mistakenly reinstated the verified account, then took it down again hours later.

As a result, many of the photos of his celebrity connections are lost. But luckily, the internet never forgets, so here’s the full list.

Note: We know at least one of the celebrities has denounced Kadyrov subsequently. Others may no longer be on friendly terms with him. We also don’t know if they have heard what is happening to LGBTI people in Chechnya.

1. Mike Tyson

In 2017, Ramzan Kadyrov posted a video to Instagram of himself with American former professional boxer Mike Tyson.

In the now-deleted video, the two men hug, mock spar with one another, sit down and talk. Then Tyson appears to sign a shirt Kadyrov is wearing.


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A post shared by Рамзан Кадыров (@z.a_kadyrov_95) on

But it’s not the first time the pair have met. Tyson made a well-documented trip to Chechnya in 2005.

It’s not known for certain where the second meeting took place, although both men are believed to have been in United Arab Emirates at the same time that year.

Ramzan Kadyrov and Mike Tyson

Ramzan Kadyrov and Mike Tyson. | Photo: @kadyrov_95 | Instagram

2. Hilary Swank

In 2011, Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank attended Kadyrov’s 35th birthday celebrations.

Human rights groups condemned her attendance at the event, forcing her to release an official apology.

Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank. | Photo: Phil Wolff / Flickr

She explained in her statement that she was in Chechnya to attend the opening of a new residential and commercial complex in Grozny City. While she was there, organizers asked her if she would wish Kadyrov a happy birthday and, not wanting to be rude, obliged.

‘I deeply regret attending this event,’ she said in her apology. ‘Which has thrown into question my long and deeply-held commitment to the protection of human rights.

‘I would never intentionally do anything that raised doubts about such commitment,’ she said.

3. Nusret Gökçe (aka ‘Salt Bae’)

Turkish butcher Nusret Gökçe – affectionately known as Salt Bae – became a viral internet meme in January 2017, with a video of him cutting a steak and sprinkling it with salt.

The internet sensation personally cooked for Ramzan Kadyrov in November last year.


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Kadyrov posted a video of the dining experience to his Instagram account. In the video, Gökçe slices the meat, while Kadyrov films the exchange.

He then dangles a piece of meat over the Chechen leader’s mouth and he eats it.

4. Vanessa Mae

Violinist Vanessa Mae attended the same birthday celebrations as Hilary Swank in 2011.

For the reported sum of $500,000 (€442,000) she took to the stage and performed excerpts from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Human Rights Foundation’s Thor Halvorssen criticized the Singapore-born musician’s involvement in the event.

He said: ‘[Vanessa Mae] should be particularly sensitive to human rights concerns.’

5. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Belgian martial arts star Jean Claude Van Damme also attended the highly-publicized 2011 birthday party for Ramzan Kadyrov.

He stood on stage and said: ‘I love you, Mr Kadyrov!’

Jean Claude Van Damme shirtless on a balcony

Jean-Claude Van Damme. | Photo: Daniel Colin / Flickr

But unlike Hilary Swank, he had no regrets about attending the event.

In fact, Van Damme made another trip to the region to watch a play and have dinner with Kadyrov.

He said he was very impressed with the country’s architecture.

6. Gérard Depardieu

French actor Gérard Depardieu is perhaps Ramzan Kadyrov’s closest Western friend.

In fact, the 70-year-old thespian actually gave up his French passport after a dispute over his taxes with the French Prime Minister. Putin then ended up giving Depardieu Russian citizenship.

Kadyrov soon bonded with the famous French actor, gifting him a five-bedroom apartment in Grozny.

The Chechen leader posted a photo of himself with Depardieu to his Instagram account in 2013.

7. Seal

That infamous 2011 birthday party gets one last special mention, with the inclusion of British singer Seal as a performer on the night.

Seal was supposed to play a half an hour set, but only ended up performing two songs due to time restraints. He defended his actions to play the gig.

‘By going there, I played MUSIC for the Chechenyan (sic) people,’ he wrote on Twitter before his performance in 2011. ‘I’m a MUSICIAN and would appreciate if you leave me out of your politics.’

After his performance, he commented: ‘It was an interesting show indeed.’

8. Elizabeth Hurley

In 2013, Kadyrov posted a photo to Instagram of himself and British actress Elizabeth (Liz) Hurley.

The photo depicts Kadyrov smiling next to Hurley, who is holding a white kitten. But some media outlets claim the photo may be doctored.

Nevertheless, reports confirm Hurley was in Chechnya in 2013 to film thriller movie Viktor, alongside French actor Gérard Depardieu.

During that time, she didn’t comment on her encounter with Ramzan Kadyrov.

Although she said in a press conference for the film: ‘We’ve made quite an invasion but we intend to make a great movie.’

9. Steven Seagal

In 2014, American actor Steven Seagal appeared on Kadyrov’s Instagram feed. Kadyrov invited him to Chechnya as a guest of honor.

‘Nobility. Willpower. Honor,’ Kadyrov wrote in the caption. ‘Qualities, characteristic of Chechens. So we can say he is almost a Chechen!’

In a video from a local Chechen news report, Seagal commented on the dance reception he received on his arrival to meet Kadyrov.

‘I love the dancing,’ he told a translator, who translated to Kadyrov. ‘I think this is my favorite dancing in the world.’

The pair then shake hands.

So what does this all mean?

It’s possible some celebrities may not have been aware of Kadyrov’s record of human rights abuses when agreeing to perform with him or be pictured alongside him.

Some may have been simply wowed by money.

Others may have felt the pressure to meet him while guests in his country, so as not to provoke approbation from authorities.

Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov. | Photo: SKFO.gov.ru / Wikimedia Commons

For example, last year, the Egyptian national soccer squad had its training camp in Chechnya during Russia’s World Cup. Kadyrov asked to meet star player Mohamed Salah.

Sources close to the footballer later claimed he was angry to have been asked to meet the leader and felt like he’d been used like a political pawn at a time when all he wanted to do was play soccer in the World Cup.

However, with recent reports of the anti-gay purge in Chechnya showing no sign of curtailing, we should be in no doubt of the prestige such photo opportunities bestow upon Kadyrov – or the reputation damage celebrities risk through their association with him.

See also:

Chechnya’s gay purge: A timeline of the atrocities

Anti-gay Chechen leader denies involvement in disappearance of pop star

US bans anti-gay Chechnya leader for ‘extrajudicial killing’ and ‘torture’

Author: James Besanvalle

The post Do these celebs know their ‘friend’ is now overseeing the murder of LGBTs? appeared first on Gay Star News.

Trump administration is continuing to ignore Chechnya LGBTI crisis

Donald Trump republican lgbti laws

The Trump administration did not join several countries in signing a joint letter to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council calling for an investigation into the ongoing LGBTI crisis in Chechnya.

Thirty-two countries delivered the letter to the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, located in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the letter, they explain their ‘deep concern about recent reports concerning the renewed persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya’.

They refer to the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. This documents declares human rights as universal. It also calls on states to take action on issues like torture and other human rights violations.

‘Today, we call on the Russian authorities to take urgent action in response to these renewed reports of violations of the human rights of LGBTI persons in Chechnya,’ the letter reads.

‘All persons who remain in detention based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity must be released immediately.

‘There must also be a swift, thorough and impartial investigation into the alleged persecution, arrest and torture of LGBTI persons, and any deaths that have resulted. Those who have directed and carried out these acts must be held responsible.’

What about support from the US?

One of the countries conspicuously missing from the letter is the United States.

‘The Trump-Pence administration has once again shamefully chosen to not speak out against the barbaric, anti-LGBTQ attacks occurring in Chechyna,’ said Human Rights Campaign Global Director Ty Cobb.

‘It’s unconscionable that the United States is not joining with these more than 30 nations in publicly condemning these Chechen anti-LGBTQ crimes against humanity and calling for those responsible to be held accountable. The absolute failure of human rights leadership from this White House is staggering.’

In October 2017, the US Senate condemned the atrocities in Chechnya.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly wrote a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the situation in Chechnya. That letter, however, was never made public.

Neither Donald Trump nor Mike Pence has ever spoken publicly about Chechnya.

Hostility towards human rights

Earlier this week, the ACLU delivered harsh criticism of the US to the UN Human Rights Council.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s human rights program, noted 22 requests from UN rapporteurs have gone unanswered by the US.

In their statement, the ACLU wrote ‘the Trump administration has escalated its hostility toward human rights bodies including the apparent severing of relationships with independent experts appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations’.

It continued: ‘These issues raise serious concerns regarding the U.S. commitment to human rights and the international rule of law.’

In June 2018, the US withdrew from the Human Rights Council.

The ACLU’s letter also noted wanting to have a record of the US’ actions towards human rights. In conclusion, they called on Congress to look into it.


As well as using our investigative journalism to keep you informed about what’s happening on-the-ground as it happens; we’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Crisis Appeal.

Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.

Please also share our appeal with your followers, friends and family; ensuring we raise awareness and apply pressure to permanently end this abuse.

See also

Chechnya’s gay purge: A timeline of the atrocities

This is where your money goes when you donate to the Chechnya Crisis Appeal

Russia ignoring Chechnya torture and murder, say European investigators

Author: Anya Crittenton

The post Trump administration is continuing to ignore Chechnya LGBTI crisis appeared first on Gay Star News.