Warning: This article contains distressing scenes.
MOSCOW—A teenager in Russia has been forced to strip naked and make a horrific “apology” video after daring to criticize the regime on social media.
The 19-year-old was a moderator for an anti-government Telegram channel that targeted the Russian republic of Chechnya, which is governed by Vladimir Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov.
Kadyrov and his militia are famous for brutal, inhuman persecutions and for forcing Russian citizens to publicly apologize for any critical articles, blogs, or even a comment on social media.
Victims routinely get threatened, detained, tortured, and finally give up, posting video apologies to put an end to their suffering.
But what happened on Monday night was a shocking new low even by Chechen standards. A video was posted showing a 19-year-old being forced to apologize for criticizing the regime and then penetrating himself with a bottle. The video of the slightly-built young man went viral in Russia.
Salman Tepsurkayev, a resident of Chechnya, apologizes in the Chechen language and then he turns away from the camera, grabs an empty bottle and sits on top of it.
Chechens online immediately called for a radical response, some even suggesting dissidents respond with violence. Ekaterina Sokirianskaya, director of The Conflict Analysis and Prevention Center, which monitors Chechen Telegram channels said, “People are furious, many call to take up weapons; I can also see posts of other nationals in Northern Caucasus saying that if Chechens tolerate this, they have been morally murdered.”
Dozens of bloggers posted videos in support of the teen. “They humiliate, destroy people in Chechnya with cynicism,” video blogger Dmitri Ivanov, who posts under the name Kamikadzedead, said on his YouTube channel. “And now they put disloyal Chechens on a bottle and shoot videos about it.”
Tepsurkayev was detained earlier this month for his online activity, human rights groups said. He was a moderator of “1ADAT” channel on Telegram, a community of Chechen nationals living in Europe and Russia. Every post in the channel criticizes Kadyrov’s brutal rule, as well as Russian President Putin’s policy.
A long-time monitor of Chechnya’s human rights violations, Sokirianskaya said she was bombarded with messages from Chechen nationals all over the world. “Chechen women and men said they felt sick, shocked, humiliated; many did not know how to continue their life with dignity,” Sokirianskaya told The Daily Beast. “The Kremlin officials should realize how much Chechen people respect traditions, many take this public rape allegedly forced by authorities personally, such horrible violation is a provocation of violence.”