“In Chechnya being homosexual is considered to be a huge shame,” Zakharova says. “Homosexuality is considered shameful not only for the person, but for their whole family and there are honour killings. It is considered that homosexuality brings such a shame on the family that there is only one way to wash the shame away – to kill the person. And we know these things are happening.
“Sometimes people are released from prisons because the authorities know they are going to be killed by the family.”
Chechnya is known having a poor record on human rights. Chechen officials act with little accountability against marginalised communities, including LGBT people, and there is a pervading climate of fear in the region. Many human rights activists and journalists have been intimidated into remaining silent on gay rights abuses.