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Moscow gay-rights activists carry boxes reportedly containing signed petitions calling for a probe into reported abuse in Chechnya in May 2017.

Two years after a “horrifying” antigay crackdown in Chechnya was revealed, Russian authorities have failed to provide justice for the victims, according to Amnesty International.

The authorities have “shown themselves to be complicit in heinous crimes committed in Chechnya against people believed to be gay or lesbian,” Marie Struthers, the London-based human rights group director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement on April 1.

A campaign of abuses -- including abduction, torture, and murder -- against gay men in Chechnya was first reported in April 2017 by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, triggering a global outcry.

Human Rights Watch later said it had confirmed that police in Chechnya rounded up, tortured, and humiliated dozens of gay or bisexual men during the spring of 2017 in "an apparent effort to purge them from Chechen society."

However, no one has yet been held accountable for this crackdown because of “state-sponsored homophobia and impunity for human rights violations” in the North Caucasus region, Struthers said.

The failure of the Russian state to provide justice for the victims unleashed another wave of “homophobic crimes” in Chechnya last year, Amnesty International said, noting that at least two people were believed to have been tortured to death in this crackdown by January 2019.

Amnesty International said Russian authorities had also failed to provide effective protection to LGBT rights defender Igor Kochetkov, the leading figure in the public investigation of the crackdown in Chechnya.

In January, a video containing insults and a death threat directed at Kochetkov was widely distributed across social networks.

Kochetkov presented a formal complaint against the author of the video, but an official investigation has not been opened by the police to date, according to Amnesty International.

However, a court in St. Petersburg last week ruled the police inaction in the case to be unlawful.

Struthers urged the authorities to quickly implement the ruling and conduct a “thorough and effective investigation” into the death threats against Kochetkov and crimes in Chechnya exposed by his LGBT Network.

Russia has faced international pressure including from the United States and the European Union over the treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya, which Kremlin-backed regional strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has ruled with an iron hand for over a decade.

Oyub Titiyev in court in the Chechen town of Shali in March.

Human rights activist Oyub Titiyev will not appeal the four-year penal colony sentence he was handed by a court in Russia's Chechnya region but will seek early release, the Moscow-based rights group Memorial says.

On April 1, the day Titiyev's sentence entered into force, Memorial said that Titiyev told his lawyer Pyotr Zaikin that he will continue to maintain his innocence but will not lodge an appeal because he wants to be released as early as possible. He said he will be eligible for release on parole next month.

Titiyev told Zaikin, who visited him in jail in Grozny on March 29, that he plans to continue to fight for the rights of ordinary people in Chechnya when he is released, Memorial said.

Titiyev, the head of Memorial's office in Chechnya, was arrested in January 2018 by police who claimed they found marijuana in his car -- an allegation he and Memorial say is unfounded and absurd. On March 18, a court in the Chechen town of Shali convicted the 61-year-old of illegal drug possession and sentenced him to four years in a colony-settlement, a penitentiary in which convicts live close to a facility where they work.

Titiyev, his lawyers, and supporters have rejected the charge as politically motivated. The trial was being closely watched by Western governments concerned about the rule of law in Russia and by human rights groups that have denounced it as a farce.

Human rights organizations, the United States, several European Union member states, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner have condemned Titiyev’s arrest and voiced concern about the case.

Activists contend that Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who was appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007, has committed serious human rights abuses, including the widespread use of kidnapping, torture, and extrajudicial killings by forces under his power.

Kremlin critics say Putin has given him free rein because he relies on him to keep a lid on separatism following two devastating post-Soviet wars in Chechnya.

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