Tatyana Moskalkova, the Russian human rights ombudsman, says that she has determined that Moscow media reports about the mistreatment of LGBT people in Chechnya should not be believed because Chechen officials say they are untrue and add that no one has complained to them about this situation.
The Chechen officials, of course, are hardly a disinterested or independent source: any of them who contradicted Ramzan Kadyrov on this point would at a minimum not be acting in a career-enhancing way. But more seriously, no one in the LGBT community in Chechnya could be expected to complain to the very officials whose colleagues have visited repression on them.
Indeed, Moskalkova’s words, even though they are likely to be cited for purposes of “balance” and “objectivity” by Moscow and Western sources are little more than the latest reprise of a classic Soviet anecdote from the 1970s.
According to that story, an old Jew from Moscow applied for an exit visa to go to the United States. He was called in by the KGB and asked why he wanted to leave. Was he unhappy with his work? “I have no complaints,” the Jew said; were his children having difficulty in getting into the right schools. Again the answer, “I have no complaints.”
This exchange went on for some time, and finally the KGB officer asked, “Well, if you have no complaints, why do you want to go the United States?” The old Jew replied that the reason was obvious: “Once I am there,” he said, “I will be able to have complaints,” one benefit Soviet life could never hope to offer him.
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