Two young Chechen men are in mortal danger

Two young Chechen men have been arrested, handed back to Chechen authorities, and forcibly returned to their homeland. Call on the US President to demand that Russia release them.

“I’m asking anyone who can help, please help me see my sons alive and in good health.”

The Russian LGBT Network is reporting that Russian police have raided their safe house and arrested two LGBT+ men who escaped from the republic of Chechnya. The two men have been handed over to Chechen authorities and returned to their homeland.

In June last year, the two young men, Salekh Magamadov (20 years old) and Ismail Isayev (17 years old), fled from Chechnya and relocated to the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. They had been arrested and tortured by Chechen special police in April and May 2020 for running an opposition Telegram channel and were later forced to record a video apology.

Their capture by Chechen authorities means they are in severe and immediate danger of further torture and death.

On the same day as Salekh and Ismail were arrested in Russia, US President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing all US overseas diplomatic and foreign assistance programs to do more to protect the human rights of LGBT+ people.

Join this call on President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken to live up to this promise and to make an immediate demand to the Russian Government that Salekh and Ismail be released unharmed.

The lives of two young men are at risk for no other reason that they are LGBT+.

Join the call for their release now and share this petition urgently with as many people as you can.

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To President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken:

Dear President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken,

Two young LGBT+ men who escaped torture in Chechnya have been arrested by Russian police and handed to Chechen authorities.

They are in immediate and grave danger.

They were arrested on the same day you published your Presidential Memorandum on global LGBT+ rights.

We call on you to live up to your promise of using US diplomacy and foreign assistance to protect the human rights of LGBT+ people and to make immediate entreaties to the Russian Government to release Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isayev.

“We were taken to the Chechen Republic. On the way, which lasted two days and throughout which we were subjected to physical and psychological violence, there was a stop, and we were taken to an unknown house. We spent the night there. All this time we were handcuffed.”

From the testimony of Salekh Magamadov (Source

“My brother [...] and I, fearing torture, agreed to sign a testimony that we did not give, [...]. On the morning of February 7, we were threatened and forced to confess to a crime we did not commit. They said we had to sign a confession.”

From the testimony of Salekh Magamadov (Source

“After my answer, the police officer took me to another office, grabbed my chest, hit me twice against the wall. I had to answer that I would sign an agreement with the appointed lawyer. Then the police officer explained to me: “If you try to resist us, then I am ready to kill you, even in the courtroom. I wouldn't be a man if I didn't kill you.”

From the testimony of Salekh Magamadov (Source


October 25, 2022

The Russian Court of Cassations upheld the ruling against LGBT+ siblings Salekh and Ismail. This means Salekh will spend seven years and Ismail six years in separate penal colonies, where they’ll face detention and forced labor. However, thanks to public awareness and your support, Salekh and Ismail are still alive.

Public pressure remains the only tool we have to influence law enforcement and the judicial system in Russia.

May 11, 2022

Today, Chechnya’s Supreme Court upheld the ruling against LGBT+ siblings Salekh and Ismail. They will soon be transferred to separate penal colonies, which combine penal detention with compulsory work: Salekh was sentenced to 7 years (plus 1 year in jail) and Ismail to 6 years. 

Their family believes the brothers are being persecuted for who they are and their political views. Our partners and the brothers’ lawyers will file an appeal to the Court of the Cassations and continue to fight for justice.

Sign and share the petition to show your solidarity with Salekh and Ismail.

February 22, 2022

Today, a Chechen court sentenced LGBT+ siblings Salekh and Ismail to 8 and 6 years behind bars for allegedly providing some food to a member of an illegal armed group. But the allegation is based on a fabricated testimony that Salekh and Ismail say they were forced to sign after being tortured. They pleaded not guilty and insisted on their innocence to no avail. The brothers’ lawyers will appeal the court's decision and continue to fight for justice.

We need to dial up the pressure now. Sign and share the petition to help Salekh and Ismail fight for justice.

January 26, 2022

The Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic refused to transfer Salekh and Ismail's case to a more impartial court within the Russian Federation. The two young Chechen men supported this request with a 12-day hunger strike, but the Chechen court didn't take that into account.

January 6, 2022

A new hearing extended Salekh and Ismail’s preventive detention to March 27, 2022. Due to critical health conditions and denied access to medical examination, Salekh and Ismail had to pause their hunger strike.

December 21, 2021

After being detained for over 10 months and threatened with honor killings on Chechen TV, Salekh and Ismail went on hunger strike to demand that their case be moved to a more impartial court. (Source)

November 19, 2021

The first hearing took place. Salekh and Ismail face up to 15 years in jail for allegedly providing some food to a member of an illegal armed group. The ​​judge denied their request to move their case to another more impartial court. 

October 16, 2021

The Chechen Investigation Committee refused to investigate and initiate a criminal case into Salekh and Ismail’s accusations of being tortured.

September 13, 2021

The human rights group "Memorial" declared Salekh and Ismail “prisoners of conscience” and their case politically motivated. (Source)

August 19, 2021

The lawyer representing Salekh and Ismail confirmed that they have been tortured and, together, we denounce these atrocities. (Source)

April 21, 2021

Six UN human rights independent experts, including the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, signed a letter to the Russian Government on the arbitrary arrest and detention on Salekh and Ismail.

March 23, 2021

Chechen authorities detained at least twenty relatives of Ismail and Salekh for a few hours: They wanted to know where their parents were in order to force them back to Chechnya. (Source)

February 9, 2021

Ned Price, the first openly gay US State Department spokesperson, expressed concern over Salekh and Ismail's fate.

This is a first step, but we need to keep up the pressure. Sign and share the petition now.

February 7, 2021

Even before official charges were brought against Salekh and Ismail, Chechen Press Minister Akhmed Dudayev told the media that the brothers were involved in helping an "illegal armed group" and that they had already given "confessions". A few days later, an official accusation was brought against the two brothers.

February 4, 2021

When the Russian LGBT Network found out that the two men were arrested, they immediately broke the news to the public.


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