The pro-Russian leader of Chechnya plans to “eliminate” the country’s gay community by the start of Ramadan on 26 May, it has been claimed.
An opposition newspaper has claimed that at least 100 men have been arrested and three killed in the roundup, in findings corroborated by the Human Rights Watch.
Now, Sir Alan Duncan, the minister of state for the Foreign Office, has said he has been informed of plans within the country to remove the gay population by May 26.
“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” Sir Alan told Parliament.
“He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community. Sources have said that he wants the community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”
One man, known simply as ‘Maksim’, told the New York Times that he had been tortured.
He said that he spoke with “a very good old friend who is also gay,” who suggested they meet at an apartment.
When Maksim arrived, he was met by agents who beat him. Later, he alleges, they strapped him to a chair, attached electrical wires to his hands and began to interrogate him.
“They yelled, ‘Who else do you know?’” Maksim told the paper. “It was unbearably painful; I was hanging on with my last strength. But I didn’t tell them anything.”
Sir Alan said the Government was speaking to Russia, which backs Kadyrov, “to make our voice clear.”
Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN has said she is “disturbed” by the reports.
“If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored – Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable and take steps to prevent future abuses,” she said.
Chechnya has denied the reports, which a spokesperson described as an “April Fool’s joke” earlier in the month.
They also denied that gay people exist in the predominantly Muslim region
“If there were such people in Chechnya, law enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning,” he said.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has said no evidence has been found to support the reports.
Earlier in the month, a panel of expert advisors to the United Nations Human Rights Council reported that: “These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law.”