In Chechnya, the "secret prison" in which men suspected of homosexuality were held is located not only in the town of Argun, but also in the village of Tsotsi-Yurt , reported Radio Liberty citing Chechens who left the republic.
According to sources, detainments were handled by the district police departments so that homosexuals were imprisoned in the same way as other offenders. Also, sources report that raids on gays began not in February but in December 2016.
Law enforcement agencies of Chechnya already had lists of suspects prepared. The Chechen police and the military have long been engaged in so-called "setups" where a victim is lured to a date, beaten and humiliated. Everything is recorded on a phone. Afterwards, money is demanded in return for silence.
The first gays that were detained were the victims of the old "setup" scheme. They were tortured for the names of their acquaintances or all the correspondence in their phone was checked. This resulted in the number of victims growing exponentially.
According to a source of Radio Liberty, by the New Year the arrests had subsided. However, the number started to rise again in February and the first deaths began to be reported in March. The policemen alleged that they never killed anyone on purpose though they would accidentally beat some detainees to death.
Sometimes, they would allegedly release a detained gay person on the condition that the relatives kill him themselves. Radio Liberty was told about at least two such cases that resulted in the deaths of men but it is impossible to verify the facts because in such “honor killings” the Chechen police never initiate criminal cases.
Previously, the Russian Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported about the prison in Argun. The publication wrote that at the end of February, the police detained a person who was in a state of substance intoxication and checked his phone. The phone had "pictures and videos with explicit content" and "dozens of contacts of local homosexuals." The detainee was sent to the "secret prison" and in Chechnya a "wave of persecution" began.