Category Archives: Eurasia

Kyrgyzstan Feature | LGBT

The Expanding Insecurity of Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT Community

Bishkek, long viewed as a relatively liberal haven not only in Kyrgyzstan but within the largely conservative Central Asia region, has seen an increase in political and social hostility towards its LGBT community. As in other parts of Eurasia, Kyrgyzstan has witnessed a resurgence in far-right ultra-nationalism and an attendant conflation of LGBT rights with Western encroachment on Kyrgyz culture, leading to increased attacks on the Kyrgyz LGBT community. Similar to other Eurasian nations, legislation has been proposed to limit information access about the LGBT community, and the shuttering of Bishek’s last remaining gay club has left the LGBT Kyrgyzstanis with few opportunities for safe communal socializing.

Read

‘All of us will be victims at some point’: why Bishkek’s only gay club closed” (The Guardian | October 2017)

Curtain Falls On Bishkek’s Lone LGBT Club Amid Worsening Atmosphere” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | June 2017)

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Azerbaijan News | LGBT

Azerbaijan launches offensive against LGBT citizens
  • Dozens were arrested and charged with “resisting police orders” in September according to community activists in the country.
  • A state spokesman denied the raids targeted sexual minorities but rather those who “show a lack of respect”, “annoy citizens,” and whom authorities believe to be carriers of infectious diseases.
  • The government has framed targeting the LGBT community as protecting community health and defending the “traditional” and “moral” values of Azerbaijan against Western attack, tying the LGBT community to Western encroachment.
Read

Outcry as Azerbaijan police launch crackdown on LGBT community” (The Guardian | October 2017)

Azerbaijan: Scale of LGBT Persecution Is Rising – Lawyer” (EurasiaNet | September 2017)

Gay men and trans women were suddenly rounded up in Azerbaijan. Here’s why.” (The Washington Post | October 2017)

Tajikistan News | LGBT

Tajikistan launches register of LGBT citizens
  • A state publication indicated 319 gay men and 48 lesbians had been identified following research into the Tajikistani LGBT community as a part of operations called “Morality” and “Purge.”
  • One police source indicated that the register could be used to gather medical records under the pretense that the state is looking to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Same-sex relations are not illegal in Tajikistan, although activists have in the past pointed to discrimination and persecution in the conservative country.
Read

Tajikistan authorities draw up list of gay and lesbian citizens” (Agence France-Presse via The Guardian | October 2017)

Tajikistan: LGBT Registry Sparks Outrage” (EurasiaNet | October 2017)

There’s a rising global tide of crackdowns on LGBT communities” (The Washington Post | October 2017)

Europe & Eurasia Research | Religious & Belief Minorities

Religion and National Identity in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on the relationship between religious and national identity in Eastern European and Eurasian countries, noting changes in the way that religious identification has influenced national identity since the fall of atheist fundamentalism with the USSR. For religious and belief minorities—now including atheists—the relationship can be a troubling one, particularly as resurgent nationalism in the region has been accompanied by xenophobia and religious discrimination.

Here are highlights from the findings:

70% (Orthodox-majority) / 57% (Catholic-majority)

Average among countries who believe majority religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

82% (Armenia)
81% (Georgia)
78% (Serbia)
76% (Greece)
74% (Romania)
66% (Bulgaria)
63% (Moldova)
57% (Russia)
51% (Ukraine)
45% (Belarus)

Percentage within Orthodox-majority countries who believe Orthodox religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

64% (Poland)
58% (Croatia)
56% (Lithuania)
43% (Hungary)

Percentage within Catholic-majority countries who believe Catholic religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

Read

Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (Pew Research Center | May 2017)

Russia News | Gay Men

Russia begins investigation into abduction, torture, and massacre of gay men in Chechnya
  • Government officials reportedly launched an investigation as international pressure increased following reports from human rights organizations about the rounding up of gay men into camps.
  • Gay Chechens have allegedly been held in extrajudicial detention and subjected to physical and psychological abuse including beatings, electroshock torture, outing to family, and murder.
  • President Vladimir Putin was reportedly briefed by the country’s human rights ombudswoman and is set up for a showdown with Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of the republic.
Read

Russia investigates ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Chechnya’s anti-gay pogrom: Too much even for the Kremlin?” (The Christian Science Monitor | May 2017)

‘They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me’” (Human Rights Watch | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Arden Arkman/AP, via The Christian Science Monitor)

Russia News | Gay Men

Scores of gay men reportedly sent to concentration camps in Chechnya
  • According to reports from human rights organizations, more than 100 men have been imprisoned in camps the Russian republic of Chechnya where they have been tortured.
  • The abducted men have ranged in age from 16 to 50, some having been lured via social media and with three among them having reportedly been killed.
  • The abductions began as an LGBT advocacy group began applying for permits to hold parades in provincial cities around the country, although the group avoided applications in much of the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region given the volatile climate.
Read

Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says” (The New York Times | April 2017)

Chechen police ‘have rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men’” (The Guardian | April 2017)

More than 100 gay men ‘sent to prison camps’ in Chechnya” (The Independent | April 2017)

(Image Credit: Musa Sadulayev/AP, via The Guardian)

Russia News | Dissidents

Hundreds arrested across Russia after thousands take to streets in protest
  • Police reported detaining some 500 protesters in the largest anti-Kremlin demonstrations since 2012, including a Guardian journalist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • Numbering as high as in the tens of thousands, protesters rallied against government corruption and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
  • Polls indicate Putin, who enjoys high approval ratings in Russia, is unlikely to be unseated as many expect a bid for a fourth term.
Read

Russian police detain opposition leader, hundreds of protesters” (Reuters | March 2017)

Russia just had its biggest unsanctioned protests in years and hundreds are now in jail” (The Washington Post | March 2017)

Hundreds detained as opposition activists hold protests in several Russian cities” (RT | March 2017)

(Image Credit: Maxim Shemetov/RT)