Chechen men are reporting abuse, arrests and torture by government officials
Amid mounting reports that gay men in Chechnya are being arrested and killed, gay Chechen activists have stepped forward to share stories from the former Soviet republic.
One man who recently fled Chechnya spoke to CNN anonymously, saying he was stopped at a police checkpoint and asked for his documents.
"They looked at them and said: 'We are taking you,'" the man, who wanted to be identified as "Ahmed," told CNN.
Another man showed CNN cellphone video from a year ago depicting a friend being abducted and beaten by men in uniform.
Another Chechen man told CNN that authorities beat him "with their fists and feet."
"They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me," he told CNN. "Then they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They've got special equipment, which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground."
Reports about the abuse of gay men in Chechnya first emerged when the New York Times covered a report from Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta that estimated more than 100 gay men had been rounded up and arrested by Chechen authorities. The report suggested at least three, if not more, had been killed.
A Chechen government spokesman told CNN the allegations of gay men being abducted and tortured are an "absolute lie" and also denied gay men even exist in Chechnya.
Aside from government suppression, gay men in Chechnya also face severe social stigma. "Ahmed" told CNN his family would likely kill him if they found out he was gay.
"Even if my parents will forgive me, someone — like my uncle — won't forgive," he said.