Washington, D.C. –Today, Representatives Gregory W. Meeks, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and David N. Cicilline, Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the Kremlin’s forcible return of two gay men into the hands of Chechen authorities known to have committed gross violations of human rights:

"Once again, we are hearing disturbing reports of state-sanctioned detentions and abuse of LGBTQ men and women in Chechnya. We are deeply alarmed that the Kremlin has chosen to enable such violations of human rights by arresting, detaining, and forcibly returning to Chechnya Alekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev, two gay men living in Moscow who fled the anti-gay purge in Chechnya. The world watched in horror in recent years as Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov unleashed a violent purge of hundreds of victims from the LGBTQ community– a purge that resulted in detention, torture or death of hundreds of innocent men and women.

"We call on the Russian government to respect the dignity of all persons and provide safe haven to all those who have fled for their safety. Returning these men to a place where they are certain to face the most severe types of human rights abuses is not only inhumane and contrary to Russia’s commitments under the UN Charter, but indicative of the broader crackdown on Russian minorities and civil society. We stand in solidarity with our allies and partners in demanding an end to Russian and Chechen authorities’ targeting of their LGBTQ citizens."