Warning: this article contains disturbing descriptions of sexual violence.
Video has surfaced online of a teenage dissident from Russia forced to rape himself following criticism of Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya and a strong ally of Russian President Vladamir Putin. Kadyrov has gained international attention for his suppression and purges of LGBTQ people in Chechnya.
The Daily Beast reports that the video in question shows 19-year-old Salman Tepsurkayev staging an apology to Kadyrov. He then penetrates himself by sitting on a bottle. Tepsurkayev had previously criticized both Putin and Kadyrov in online forums on the website Telegram. Tepsurkayev also moderated a channel on the site dedicated to government dissent.
The rape and torture of Tepsurkayev follow a similar pattern of violence perpetrated by Kadyrov on queer people in Chechnya. Reports from the Russian controlled nation-state share horror stories of LGBTQ people beaten, raped, tortured or disappearing into the night. The video, however, marks a new low, even for Kadyrov’s brutal regime. As such, it has gone viral in Eastern Europe, and generated a substantial backlash.
“People are furious, many call to take up weapons,” said Ekaterina Sokirianskaya, director of The Conflict Analysis and Prevention Center, an organization that monitors dissent in Russia. “I can also see posts of other nationals in Northern Caucasus saying that if Chechens tolerate this, they have been morally murdered. Chechen women and men said they felt sick, shocked, humiliated; many did not know how to continue their life with dignity. The Kremlin officials should realize how much Chechen people respect traditions, many take this public rape allegedly forced by authorities personally, such horrible violation is a provocation of violence.”
Perhaps it goes without saying, but at the time of this writing, neither Russia nor Chechnya have apologized for its treatment of Tepsukayev.
Ramzan Kadyrov continues to sustain international denouncement for his brutalization of queer people, and of his political opponents. Previously he has denied that LGBTQ people even exist in Chechnya, saying “We don’t have those kinds of people here. “We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”