Chechen authorities have been detaining and killing gay men, The New York Times reported on Saturday, citing a leading Russian opposition newspaper.
The newspaper Novaya Gazeta had the names of three men who have been murdered, and suspected many others perished in extrajudicial killings, the New York Times said.
Over 100 have been detained, the newspaper reported, and the New York Times confirmed with an analyst of the region.
The men were detained in connection with “their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” federal law enforcement officials said, according to the Russian newspaper.
Describing the Russian article as “absolute lies and disinformation,” a spokesman for Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly said it was impossible such incidents occurred because there are no gay men in the region.
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the report cited the spokesman, Alvi Karimov, as saying.
“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,” according to Karimov.
The round-ups and killings started after a Moscow-based gay rights group began applying for permits to hold pride parades in the Muslim-majority northern Caucus region, where Chechnya is located, the report said.
Local authorities reportedly proceeded to track down and detain gay men by posing as potential partners on social networking sites.
The Times quoted the Russian report as saying that the victims had been closeted gay men, because in the region, “demonstrating their sexual orientation publicly… is equal to a death sentence.”