• An activist stands naked, wrapped in a rainbow flag during a demonstration calling on Russian President to put an end to the persecution of gay men in Chechnya. (AFP (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images))Source: AFP (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Leila faced violence from fellow Chechens after she began presenting as female.
Michaela Morgan

25 May 2017 - 12:47 PM  UPDATED 25 May 2017 - 12:47 PM

A transgender woman from Chechnya has spoken about the persecution she faced from fellow Chechens while living in Moscow, Pink News reports.

In an interview with Russia’s Rain TV, the woman - identified only as ‘Leila’ - says she was stabbed on the streets of Moscow following her gender re-assignment surgery.

While living in Chechnya, Leila was presenting as male and did not face any harassment. She even worked for the former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov (father of current President Ramzan Kadyrov) in 2002.

“He was a nice man, and there was no negative feeling towards me from him that I noticed,” Leila says. “Even though I had plucked eyebrows and it was clear that I stood out from the crowd.”

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However, after moving to Russia and transitioning, Leila says she was targeted by Chechens who stabbed her and threatened to murder her.

Her relatives were also urged to kill her and were told: “Either you remove this man who offends all Chechen society by their very presence, or we’ll find you and bring the body.”

Leila managed to escape Russia in 2016 and had planned to move to Argentina until her attackers discovered her plan.

Instead, she reached the United States via Mexico and is currently living there as an undocumented immigrant, receiving assistance from a Russian LGBT+ charity.

The current situation for the gay community in Chechnya is worsening, with Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reporting that 26 gay and bisexual men have been killed by authorities.

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The newspaper first broke the story in April that over 100 men in the region had been detained and were being tortured by police.

The paper is now reporting that relatives of missing gay men are also being pressured by Chechen security forces to sign a statement saying that "their son (or brother) (full name) left the republic to work in Moscow in late February". 

The head of the Grozny police has maintained that gay and bisexual men have not been harmed and are not in any danger.

“Nobody will touch them now, even if parades are held in the center of Grozny,” he said, according to Novaya Gazeta via Crime Russia