‘Welcome to Chechnya’ looks at systematic persecution of LGBTQ people in the Russian republic

Chechnya is a lawless region of Russia. It’s tucked away in a remote corner of the Caucasus near the Caspian Sea. Three years ago, an extrajudicial purge began that targeted mostly young men and some women. They were harassed and abused on the streets, even ambushed or plucked from their homes. They were whisked away to squalid jails and detention facilities. Some were murdered. Their offense? Their sexual orientation.

Journalist and filmmaker David France’s new documentary tells the story of these LGBTQ purges, and how activists smuggle the victims out of the region (and even out of Russia) through a clandestine network of pseudonyms, shelters, and safe houses.

The film is called “Welcome to Chechnya.” It’s on HBO now.