Movsar Eskerkhanov reportedly disappeared for months after coming out about the brutality he experienced as a gay man in Chechnya. But now the 28-year-old has resurfaced on the state-controlled Grozny TV to disavow earlier claims of abuse.
Eskerkhanov now says he was “set up” by Time magazine, who published his harrowing story in September. He claimed Western journalists “sensationalized” the reports.
“They disgraced me before the Chechen people and the Chechen leader, I was framed,” Eskerkhanov told a reporter with Grozny TV, who posted two interviews with him on its Instagram Monday. “That’s why I apologize to the residents of Chechnya, the leadership of Chechnya, the Chechens living in the North Caucasus, and Europe.”
СЕНСАЦИОННОЕ РАССЛЕДОВАНИЕ ЧГТРК «ГРОЗНЫЙ» В ДЕЛЕ МОВСАРА ЭСКЕРХАНОВА. Рассказ о том, как западные СМИ использовали душевно больного человека, якобы сбежавшего из Чеченской Республики. Собственный корреспондент ЧГТРК “Грозный” в Германии Беслан Дадаев провел шокирующее расследование. Ждите новых фактов в истории Мовсара Эскерханова. Скоро на телеканале «Грозный»! #ЧГТРК #Чечня #Грозный
Eskerkhanov looked frail and severely emaciated throughout the exchange, his weary face covered with a gray hooded sweatshirt.
The interview was included in what Chechen state television has referred to as a “front-page investigation” surrounding reports that more than 200 men have been detained, beaten, and murdered since authorities began rounding up gay men in February. At least three prisoners have been killed, and recent reports claim that a popular gay Russian singer, Zelimkhan Bakayev, lost his life in the extermination campaign.
Calling Eskerkhanov a “mentally ill person,” the station said the claims are being “cooked up” by U.S. media.
“Which goals did they actually pursue?” Grozny TV asked of the Time report, one of a number of similar stories of anti-gay torture. “For whom was it beneficial to show him in a bad light, denigrating his honor and honor of the entire Chechen people?”
Как и предполагалось, западные СМИ не брезгуют никакими приемами при выполнении своих задач. Ситуация с Мовсаром Эскерхановым это наглядно доказывает. Душевно больной человек выдумал историю, которую поспешили раздуть представители средств массовой информации. Какие цели они на самом деле преследовали? Кому было выгодно выставить его в неблагоприятном свете, очернив его честь и честь всего чеченского народа? Собственный корреспондент телерадиокомпании «Грозный» в Германии Беслан Дадаев раскрыл все секреты провокаторов. Предельно откровенно неизвестные ранее обстоятельства, новые факты в сенсационном расследовании ЧГТРК «Грозный». Смотрите скоро на нашем телеканале! Не пропустите! #ЧГТРК #Грозный #Чечня
Although Eskerkhanov was not imprisoned in the 2017 campaign, he testified to the daily horrors LGBTQ people face in the semi-independent Russian republic.
The refugee, who was denied asylum in Germany in 2016, told Time that he was arrested and sexually assaulted by Chechen police who alleged he was a “terrorist sympathizer.” Following his violation, law enforcement officials called Eskerkhanov’s family members and told them to come and “deal with him.”
The gay man’s sexuality had long been an “open secret” in his community, and he said in September that he often worried that his food might be poisoned. Eskerkhanov claimed that when fellow Chechens in a German refugee camp heard rumors about his sexuality, they showed up to his bunk in the night, choked him, and tried to drag him to the street. The altercation was broken up by other asylum seekers in the camp.
An earlier report that aired on Chechen television earlier this year, as the BBC notes, claimed Eskerkhanov’s mother is “ashamed to look people in the eyes.”
Despite Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s claims that there are no LGBTQ people in the Muslim-majority territory, Maxim Lapunov came forward in October to testify to the very real atrocities he and many others have experienced. He claimed that he was brutally beaten by authorities in a blood-soaked cell. When Lapunov would pass out from the pain, police stood him up and begin beating him again.
“I keep having nightmares about what I went through there,” Lapunov said in a press conference last month. “Those cries, moans, and prays for mercy have left an imprint.”
President Donald Trump has yet to speak out against the ongoing abuses.