Police have rounded up more than 100 gay men in the Russian republic of Chechnya and killed three of them, reports Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper.
The arrested men include local television personalities and religious figures, according to the Guardian.
Alvi Karimov, a Chechen spokesperson for Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov refuted these reports, under the premise that gay people simply do not exist in the Muslim-majority region. “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” Karimov said.
“If there were such people in Chechnya,” Karimov expounded, “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.”
Kheda Saratova, a member of Kadyrov’s human rights council, told a Russian radio station that “I haven’t had a single request on this issue, but if I did, I wouldn’t even consider it.”
“In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities,” she added, “and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society.”
Officially part of the Russian Federation, the Chechen Republic is allowed to operate for itself, but under a tight leash from Moscow. Deeply conservative, two costly yet ultimately pointless wars for independence have devastated the region and have led to an authoritarian dictatorship funded by federal money.
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