Numerous gay men have reportedly been arrested and some killed by Chechen authorities, according to a leading Russian newspaper.
It is believed that over 100 men have been detained, and three names of those who have been killed have since been released. Although activists believe many more are dead.
Two television reporters, a waiter, and numerous other men ranging in age from 16 to 50 have been reported missing from the state of Chechnya, in Russia.
In one instance, a 16-year-old boy was detained, but reappeared later with severe injuries from being beaten.
Human rights activists in the area believe that authorities have been arresting and killing the missing men, all of whom are believed to be gay.
Newspaper Novaya Gazeta supported the activists theory, writing that the men were detained “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such”.
A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the report by the newspaper, calling the article “absolute lies and disinformation.”
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the spokesman, Alvi Karimov, 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.”
Activists believe that the arrests and murders began after a gay rights group in the local area sought out permits to hold gay pride parades.
The group knew that they would inevitably be denied these permits but they were collecting the evidence to build a case to take to the European Court of Human Rights.
A permit was not sought out in Chechnya, but in a neighbouring region – prompting an anti-gay demonstration.
Allegedly the country’s president, Putin, gave the order for local leaders to undertake a “prophylactic sweep”, a sweep that targeted gay men and led to the murders.
Authorities apparently used social media to seek out gay men, and since the order was given many people have gone missing.