Russia detains protesters against anti-gay purge in Chechnya
Russian authorities have been seen detaining young activists protesting against an anti-gay purge which is taking place at Chechnya.
The protesters came out on the streets amid a May Day parade in St Petersburg on Monday 1 May.
The AFP reports that one of its photographers witnessed activists being detained by police after they carried placards against the Chechen persecution of gay people.
According to local news sources, seventeen activists were detained.
Speaking to AFP, a police source said: “Some people who breached public order at the parade were detained.”
The young activists were “bundled into police vans”, according to the AFP, by riot police wearing helmets.
Some had carried rainbow flags and others had laid on the ground covered with the Chechen flag, while others threw soil onto them to symbolise the killings of some of the men in the Chechen Republic.
Others had shouted “Kadyrov to the Hague”, in reference to the international criminal tribunal.
One of the architects of Russia’s 2013-passed law which bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors, Vitaly Milonov, was also reported to have shouted abuse at protesters.
Respected newspaper Novaya Gazeta originally reported that gay men were being held in two concentration camp style prisons.
Reports initially centred on two jails in the villages of Argun and Tsotsi-Yurt.
However journalists from the area last week said they had uncovered evidence of a further four prisons, meaning there are at least six prisons in the region holding people because of their sexual orientation.
The newspaper also claims that the men, who face torture in jail, are only released once their families offer bribes to police.
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Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary, has 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.
Last 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.”
But the international community has condemned the reports that men suspected of being gay have been detained and some killed.