Idris was detained in 2017 in Chechnya on suspicion of homosexuality. Police officers tortured him to get a confession. The young man was later released, promising to come after him again. Then Idris began to prepare to escape and turned to human rights activists.
In January 2018, with our help, he left the country and moved to the Netherlands, where he received political asylum and residency status in 2019.
Idris returned to Chechnya in 2022: the young man came to attend his father’s funeral. According to the rules, refugees are forbidden to return to the country from which they fled, but there are exceptions. Because of the death of a close relative, Idris was officially allowed to leave the Netherlands, return to Russia and then leave again.
Returning to Chechnya was risky, but family is often particularly important for people from the North Caucasus republics. Some of our clients also returned home for relatives’ funerals, and sometimes there were repeated detentions, but they managed to leave the country again.
March 2022, when Idris returned to Russia, was a particularly bad time for such decisions: the war had worsened the situation of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya and made it more difficult to obtain documents and travel outside the republic.
Leaving Chechnya proved even more difficult. The young man was already in the law enforcement agencies’ database, and they began harassing him again. Idris was detained and tortured three times, but later released. His travel permit, obtained from the Dutch municipality, was confiscated, and difficulties were encountered in obtaining a passport for travel abroad. After the third detention he decided to fly from Grozny to Moscow.
Idris got in touch with us in February 2023. We were not notified that he had returned to Russia. Due to the loss of important documents we could not guarantee Idris’ return to the Netherlands. He bought his own tickets for a flight from Chechnya to Moscow, and on 15 February he was apprehended at Domodedovo on a Chechen alert.
The officers who were holding Idris immediately told him that their colleagues from Chechnya were coming for him. We immediately sent a lawyer to Idris, but he was not allowed to talk to his client in private – only through the bars of the cell in the presence of a staff member. Idris was in a state of shock and was very afraid to return to Chechnya; the young man had a panic attack.
Since the persecution began in 2017 there has only been one complaint against Idris, and that was that he was gay. Now they are trying to fabricate a case against the young man under Article 159.3 (fraud on a large scale), which, thanks to a broad interpretation, is often attributed to people undesirable to the authorities. However, in 2021, when the crime for which Idris is a suspect was committed, he was outside Russia.
An operative from Chechnya who arrived on the scene took Idris away without any explanation, not even showing the documents to the Domodedovo police.
On February 17 our lawyers arrived in Chechnya and went to the Interior Ministry’s Shelkovo district, where the defendant was supposed to be kept. They were not allowed inside and did not provide