A secret shelter in Moscow is right now one of the only safe refuges for gay and bisexual Chechen men amid a reported campaign of state-sponsored violence that saw nearly 100 men rounded up by police and taken to a detention center, where many were tortured, NBC News reported.
As many as 20 men are believed to be dead as a result of the anti-LGBTQ police sweeps, though only three deaths have been verified by human rights groups.
Ilya, whose real name has been withheld for security reasons, said he was scared for his life last year when three men wearing military uniforms kidnapped him in Russia's remote Chechnya region.
"I was scared, because I knew what would happen next," he said.
The men dragged him out of their car, beat him and shouted slurs, Ilya said. His crime: being a gay man.