The president of Chechnya has issued a chilling warning to gay men in the region.
Britain’s deputy foreign secretary revealed the terrifying threat from the Chechen leader while taking an urgent question on the situation in parliament.
Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, told parliament: “Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
“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 [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”
The minister added: “Such comments, attitudes and actions are absolutely beyond contemptible.”
PinkNews has spoken to the Foreign Office, who verified that President Kadyrov had made the threat in local Russian language media, seen by the UK government.
Ramadan starts on May 26 this year, and is widely celebrated in Chechnya, which is a predominantly Muslim area.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s deputy, who is gay himself, labelled the reported abuses of gay men as “utterly barbaric” and “despicable” in a strongly worded statement to the Commons.
Mr Duncan revealed that he spoke directly to his counterpart, Russia’s deputy foreign secretary Vladimir Titov, to challenge the Russian Federation on human rights abuses against LGBT people.
British Embassy representatives have also spoken directly to the Russian government to raise the issue.
However a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin has said the Russian president has no reason to believe the attacks are genuine.
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Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary, claimed that investigators have found no evidence to support reports of the purge, which originated in respected newspaper Novaya Gazeta, according to Associated Press.
The Chechen republic is a federal subject of Russia, but has its own government and court system.
This week, Putin had a meeting with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who told the Russian president not to believe the “provocative” articles.
He also accused international organisations of conducting a “massive information attack using the most unworthy methods, reality is distorted, attempts are being made to blacken our society, lifestyle, traditions and customs.”
A spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has previously denied there are any gay people to purge, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 gay men have been detained, allegedly in concentration camps, and four are now thought to have been killed.
Editors of Novaya Gazeta have voiced fears over the safety of the staff after they received countless threats following reports on the alleged purge.