USA denies visas to gay Russians fleeing torture and murder in Chechnya

Lithuania first country to grant asylum to gay men escaping Chechnya

Lithuania first country to grant asylum to gay men escaping Chechnya

A Russian LGBT group has said that "conversations with the USA embassy have led it to believe that visas to the United States are out of reach for gay Chechens", BuzzFeed reported.

After initial publication of this story, the Russia LGBT Network spokesperson clarified that the U.S. had not yet formally denied any visa applications. There are reportedly many more seeking asylum from persecution-but they won't find it in the U.S.

In addition, there is now one of the first incidents of another country that has offered visas to men who've escaped from Chechnya.

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The United States does not issue visas on humanitarian grounds, meaning the only way the men could travel to the United States is on a tourist visa, which would require proof of their intention to return to Russian Federation when the visa expires. He's been accused of having his critics hunted down.

A US State Department spokesperson said on background that all visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and the Chechens are eligible to apply. "If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement organs wouldn't need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning", the spokesperson for Chechen president Alvi Karimov told Russian news agency Interfax. "As visa records are confidential under USA law, we are unable to discuss individual cases". Linkevicius considers their acceptance an "implicit message" to the Russian government, that Lithuania is "taking care of Russian citizens..."

Amnesty International has current actions to urge the Russian and Chechen authorities to investigate the abductions, as well as to protect the journalists who exposed the abuse.

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Activists are in talks with five countries, two of them non-EU, the Russian LGBT Network told the BBC.

MEPs said: "Chechen authorities must end the persecution of gay men and an investigation must be held as a matter of urgency".

Under mounting public pressure, Vladimir Putin agreed to an investigation, but Ha'aretz reported last week that the investigation has already found that "there are no victims of persecution, threats or violence" and is likely already considered over.

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