No information on Chechen gay killings claim

DEATH. By Justin Moran Thu

In response to a growing worldwide outcry about the reported LGBTQ torture campaign, Chechen leaders mocked concerns by claiming there are no gay people in the region and even encouraging citizens to "hunt down" anyone they believe to be LGBTQ.

The organisation also criticised a gathering of Chechen elders and clergymembers which took place days after the original article in Novaya Gazeta.

Protests in front of Russian Embassies were held in London and Reykjavík.

Russia's most famous campaigning newspaper said on Friday it had appealed to the Kremlin to protect its staff after Chechen clerics said the paper faced "retribution" for alleging that gay men in Chechnya were being tortured and killed.

Novaya Gazeta spoke with Chechen men who reported being arrested and subsequently tortured with beatings and electric shocks, as well as being forced to supply authorities with the names and phone numbers of other LGBTQ people.

One cleric named Adam Shakhidov reportedly said: "In view of the fact that [the report] insulted the foundations of Chechen society and the dignity of Chechens, as well as our faith, we promise that retribution will overcome the instigators [of the report], wherever and whoever they may be, without a statute of limitations".

The newspaper wrote that the resolution "encouraged religious fanatics to violence against journalists" and called the Russian authorities to ensure the safety of journalists. And Chechen leaders have repeatedly denied the report.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's spokesman, Alvi Karimov, was cited by Russia's Interfax news agency as saying the reports of a anti-gay purge were "absolute lies and disinformation", saying there were no gay men in Chechnya to be persecuted.

"The most fundamental internationally-accepted human rights are the right to life, liberty, and security of person".

However, with over 100 men missing and at least three dead, the statement is not only false but a clear act of violence.

While Novaya Gazeta has not independently, directly confirmed the existence of camps more and more gay men from Chechnya have spoken up about it.

The Russian authorities condemned threats against journalists and said that the Kremlin was monitoring the situation.

A statement released on Thursday by the United Nations' High Commissioner on Human Rights called upon the Russian government "to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual. who are living in a climate of fear fuelled by homophobic speeches by local authorities".