Coda Story – Meet the Gay Russian Man Blackmailed to Infiltrate Terrorist Groups in Syria

An investigation by a Moscow-based newspaper this spring made headlines around the world that the Russian government in Chechnya, a republic in the North Caucasus, was committing horrific crimes against gay men. Russia’s leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta exposed systematic arrests, torture and in some cases killings of homosexuals in Chechnya.

But few journalists have written about how Russian security agencies gather kompromat, or compromising material, on gay men in the region in order to blackmail and recruit them. An exclusive interview with a young gay man Ruslan (his name has been changed to protect his identity) from the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan by the Caucasian Knot sheds light on a practice which dates back to Soviet times and is still used by Russian security services.

It was a winter day in 2014 and 23-year-old Ruslan was on his way to meet a friend in his hometown of Derebent, Dagestan, when a car pulled up blocking his way across a crosswalk. “Get in,” the driver told him.

Client: Coda Story / Multiedia Editor: Katia Patin / Illustrator: Sofo Kirtadze

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An investigation by a Moscow-based newspaper this spring made headlines around the world that the Russian government in Chechnya, a republic in the North Caucasus, was committing horrific crimes against gay men. Russia’s leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta exposed systematic arrests, torture and in some cases killings of homosexuals in Chechnya.

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