Chechen police ‘kidnap and torture gay men’
Gay men are fleeing brutal persecution in Chechnya, where police are holding more than 100 people and torturing some of them in an anti-gay crackdown, Russian activists say.
Natalia Poplevskaya of the Russian LGBT Network said “we are working to evacuate people”.
A government spokesman called the reports “lies” and said homosexual people “simply don’t exist in the republic”.
Homophobia is widespread in Chechnya.
The mainly Muslim region is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, an authoritarian leader with a notorious private militia, fiercely loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ms Poplevskaya told the BBC that victims – either gay or just perceived as gay – are being held at a detention centre near Argun, 20km (13 miles) from the city of Grozny.
She said the LGBT Network, based in St Petersburg, was aware of “an organised campaign to detain gay men” in Chechnya.
“Torture is going on with electric shocks, beatings with cables. All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay,” she said. Three deaths have been reported.
More than 30 people were crammed into one cell, she added.
Despite appeals to the Russian authorities to stop the abuses, no action has been taken, she complained.
Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov denied the alleged persecution.
“You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,” he said.