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Sun Jul 7, 2019, 05:23 AM

Extortion, violence and fear: One gay man's harrowing experience in Russia's Caucasus region


Being a gay man in Russia's Caucasus region means living a life of secrecy, lies and constant fear of exposure.

"If you don't hide it, no one will let you live," said Orhan, a 24-year-old Muslim man from the region near Chechnya, who agreed to share his harrowing story of being outed in a place where even the suggestion of being gay can be a death sentence.

"I lost my work ... I was a waiter and a singer. They chased me out of my workplace," he said. "In one day, I lost everything I had worked for in 10 years."

In an exclusive interview in his mountain village not far from the Caspian Sea, Orhan provided access to his life and family as he struggled to cope with the aftermath of having his secret revealed.

He also agreed to allow his face to be partly shown in images and on video. CBC News has decided not to use his real name, and to omit details about his hometown, in an effort to make it harder for his enemies to locate him.

Orhan said his motivation for speaking out is rooted in a deep fear and desperation to get out of Russia. He hopes that by sharing his story, his plea for help will be heard.

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