Warlord who led torture and murder of LGBTQ Chechens killed in Ukraine

Chechen general Magomed Tushayev
Chechen general Magomed Tushayev (left) and other Chechen fighters, via Kraaken97/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A top Chechen general who had played a key role in the years-long “anti-gay purge” in Chechnya targeting members of the LGBTQ community with illegal forced detentions, torture and murder was killed Saturday during fighting in Ukraine.

Magomed Tushayev, who served as a close advisor to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Pro-Putin leader of the Chechen Republic, was leading a regiment of the Chechnya National Guard when he was killed during a battle with Ukraine’s elite Alpha Group over control of Antonov Airport, also known as Hostomel Airport. The international cargo airport and testing facility near Kyiv has been an important landmark strategically throughout the conflict.

Illia Ponomarenko, defense reporter with Ukrainian news outlet The Kyiv Independent, reported the news on Twitter and it was confirmed by a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the Los Angeles Blade.

The killing came the same day as Kadyrov released a video denying his side had taken any casualties, claiming: “As of today, as of this minute, we do not have one single casualty, or wounded, not a single man has even had a runny nose.”

“The president [Putin] took the right decision and we will carry out his orders under any circumstances,” he added.

On Tuesday he changed his tune, however, admitting to casualties in a post to Telegram.

“Unfortunately, there are already losses among the natives of the Chechen Republic. Two died…six more were injured to varying degrees,” Kadyrov wrote. “Yes, they kill in war, and that was their choice of profession. And these guys chose to become heroes who gave their lives for the security of the two countries.”

Related: David France on risking his life to reveal the horror of a queer Holocaust in ‘Welcome to Chechnya’

The Los Angeles Blade reports Russian-based human rights organizations confirmed Tushayev played a role in the targeting of LGBTQ Chechens as recently as May of last year, when human rights activist, and a native of Daghestan, Ibragim Selimkhanov was reportedly kidnapped in Moscow and brought to the North Caucasus region of Chechnya. There he was interrogated by Chechen authorities attempting to gain information on the Russian LGBT Network’s associates who assist members of the queer community in the area.

Selimkhanov was later placed in the charge of his mother, who lives in the Chechen capital city of Grozny, where, despite being under surveillance, he was able to escape back to Moscow.

“While I never rejoice at the killing of anyone, his death means one less mass murderer on the loose,” British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told The Jerusalem Post on the news of Tushayev’s death.

“Those who live by the sword should not be surprised if they die by the sword. This will mean that he is no longer able to abduct, torture and kill Chechen LGBTs and dissidents, which is a good thing.”

Related: LGBTQ activists protest in support of Ukraine at Stonewall Inn