A leading Russian opposition newspaper has confirmed what has been spoken about in hushed tones until now: Chechen authorities have detained over 100 homosexuals in recent weeks and at least three of them have been killed, but the public doesn't seem to mind.
Quoting the Novaya Gazeta publication, The New York Times reported on Saturday about the mass detention "in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such." The newspaper also listed the names of three men who were killed extrajudicially.
The publication cited sources from the Republic's Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service and Prosecutor's Office. The paper was prompted to investigate following rumors of gay men aged 16 to 50 mysteriously disappearing by the dozens off the streets.
But the report was dismissed as "an absolute lie and disinformation" by the press spokesman for Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov.
"You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic," he said. "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."
The Russian Federation has openly declared hostility against the LGBT community and even passed an anti-propaganda law early last year that prohibits gay rights demonstrations and prosecutes those who express support for homosexuals. The move was made to prevent Islamist extremism in Muslim regions.
Authorities set off a crackdown against homosexuals by luring them via internet dating sites.
"In Chechnya, the command was given for a 'prophylactic sweep' and it went as far as real murders," Novaya Gazeta reported.
A 16-year-old boy who had been detained was said to have returned home "all beaten, just a sack with bones."
What is tragic is that some homosexuals have been killed by their own relatives and that Chechnya's "entire judicial system" treats these cases "with understanding," said Kheda Saratova, a member of the presidential human rights council. Even she herself would "not even bother considering" such a report, she added.