More than 100 gay men have been detained and at least three have been killed by authorities in Chechnya, according to a Russian newspaper cited in a report in the New York Times.
According to government and police sources, the new developments follow a week of rumors about gay men mysteriously disappearing off the streets of the Russian republic. Dozens of men between the ages of 16 and 50 have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” according to Novaya Gazeta.
The report blamed local authorities for the men’s detention and identified three men as murder victims. It’s thought that the actual number of dead may be higher.
A spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, denied that any such activities have taken place. He further suggested that there are no gay people in the country at all.
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” spokesman Alvi Karimov said in a statement obtained by Radio Free Europe on Saturday. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
The Russian Federation is known for its hostility to the LGBTQ community. Since 2013, it has upheld an anti-gay propaganda law that sharply curtails the public expression of LGBTQ identities.