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Gay Man Who Alleges Abuse In Chechnya Vows To Seek Justice At European Court

Maksim Lapunov
Maksim Lapunov

A Russian man who says he was abducted and beaten by police in Chechnya because he is gay has vowed to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights after unsuccessful efforts to "find justice" in his home country.

Maksim Lapunov spoke on November 26 after an appeals court upheld the decision of a lower court that backed investigators who refused to open a criminal case based on his allegations.

Lapunov, the only person to publicly claim that he was a victim of an antigay crackdown in Chechnya in the spring of 2017 that triggered a global outcry, has not commented on the matter since he made his accusations.

"This was my last chance to find justice in Russia," Lapunov said of the ruling by the Stavropol Regional Court, which upheld an earlier decision by the Yessentuki City Court.

"Now I will be doing that with the ECHR," he said in a video posted on Facebook. "I do not know what further developments [will take place], but I will be fighting for justice."

Lapunov's lawyer, Vladimir Smirnov, confirmed the ruling in comments to RFE/RL on November 27.

In October 2017, Lapunov told a news conference in Moscow that he was apprehended by men in civilian clothes that March and was subjected to vicious beatings and psychological terror during nearly two weeks of detention.

He said he saw and heard others being beaten and tortured in a cellar where detainees were held, publicly providing evidence of what rights groups said was a campaign of abuse against gay and bisexual men by authorities in the North Caucasus region.

Lapunov filed a lawsuit against police in Chechnya, accusing them of torturing him in illegal custody. But investigators refused to launch a probe into his complaints and the Yessentuki City Court upheld that decision in August.

Representatives of Russia's Committee Against Torture group also said it will appeal the Stavropol Regional Court's ruling with the ECHR.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta
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