Earlier this month more than 100 queer men have been arrested in Chechnya and rounded up in concentration camps where many have been tortured and at least 3 killed according to the BBC and the Huffington Post.
The Russian opposition news publication Novaya Gazeta first reported that men between the ages of 16 and 50 were being gathered and arrested “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” The paper published the names of three murder victims, and speculated many more had likely been killed, as well.
Speaking to the New York Times, though, Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov dismissed the claims, and denied that any gay people even exist within the region at all. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” he said. “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 sweep of arrests was apparently prompted by an application of the gay rights group GayRussia.ru for rights to celebrate a Pride parade— rights which, unsurprisingly, were immediately denied, and met with severe authoritative backlash.
Foreign ministers from the European Union, the US and UK have all urged Russia to urgently intervene. “We condemn violence against any individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis,’ a US State Department spokesperson said. “We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the alleged killings and mass arrests, and hold the perpetrators responsible. We were likewise deeply disturbed by local authorities statements that apparently condone and even incite violence against LGBTI persons.”