A Russian newspaper has reported that it has uncovered information that police in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up more than 100 men suspected of homosexuality and that at least three have been killed according to the New York Times, which cites the Novaya Gazeta. The Russian newspaper says it confirmed the news with government officials and an analyst of the region also confirmed the news to the Times with her own sources.
The report has been denied by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesman, who suggested there are no homosexuals in the Muslim-majority region. Ali Karimov said, “It’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
Three men are known to have been murdered, although the real number is likely to be higher. The newspaper claims authorities have been specifically seeking out closeted gay men by posing as men looking for dates on social networking sites.
The Kremlin-backed Kadyrov is widely accused of extensive human rights violations. He has brought Islam to the fore of Chechnya’s daily life, including opening what is called Europe’s biggest mosque.