Chechnya’s top court has ruled that the arrest of two young gay men was legal amid growing concern over their safety and lack of legal representation in the North Caucasus region know for abuses against LGBT people.
The court ruling on February 24 comes after Salekh Magamadov, 18, and a 17-year-old companion were abducted by security agents earlier in the month from Nizhny Novgorod in western Russia and driven back to Chechnya.
RFE/RL is not revealing the identity of the second teenager because he is a minor.
The two are accused of providing food to an illegal armed group and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. They are currently being held in pretrial detention.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, a rights group, the young men were forced to sign statements and testimonies under threats and pressure.
Meanwhile, they have also been denied access to independent lawyers and doctors despite a demand from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
On February 8, the ECHR ordered Russia to explain the reasons for the detention of the two men, provide them access to independent lawyers, health care, and family visits.
The LGBT Network has warned that two men face “mortal danger” in Chechnya.
The nongovernmental organization helped both men leave Chechnya and settle in Nizhny Novgorod in July.
The teenagers intended to leave Russia, but they were detained by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents earlier this month and taken to Chechnya.
Rights groups have accused predominantly Muslim Chechnya of targeting sexual minorities, including the use of abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killing.