In late February or early March, Ali was in his apartment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, when he got a phone call from a local police officer. “Get dressed, we have to take you in,” the man said. Ali took the sim card out of his cell phone, inserted it into a spare, blank phone, and hid his regular handset. By the time he was done, two police officers were knocking on the door. They put him in a car and drove to a nearby street, where two cars were waiting. The men put him in the back seat of one of the vehicles and got in with him.
“They pushed my head down so I wouldn’t see where we were going,” Ali, who is around thirty years old, told me. Soon, the car pulled up to an unmarked building. Ali saw two men he knew standing in front: “Their faces were all swollen from beatings. One of them said, ‘I told them everything.’ ”
Ali was taken into a room. “Their boss is sitting there, sprawled out,” he continued. “He says, ‘You take it up the ass.’ I start denying everything.” The boss asked Ali about another man, whom Ali knew to be gay. That morning, the man had called Ali and suggested that they meet. “I knew that if they tortured him he’d break and give everyone up,” Ali told me. He said to the police that he knew the man only as a business client. “They started beating me. I kept saying that I don’t know anything, I’ve never even heard that there were gays here in Chechnya.”
The men took him down to a basement, where there was a large central room, with cells and small chambers around the perimeter. In one chamber, officers dunked prisoners’ heads in a vat of ice water; in another, they attached clothespin-like clips wired to a large battery to earlobes or extremities. The cells held men and women, who screamed as they were beaten with fists and batons.
The jailers tortured Ali and then brought him back upstairs to face the boss, then back to the basement for more torture, then back up. Each time Ali was interrogated, the boss demanded that he admit that he was homosexual and give him the names of other gay men. Each time, Ali denied everything. He knew that his phone would yield no information. Read more via the New Yorker