Chechnya’s leader President Ramzan Kadyrov has defended honour killings of gay men.
Speaking to HBO, the Chechen president said that he would defend the rights of families to murder their gay relatives.
‘Honour killings’, or the murder of relatives due to the belief that the victim has brought shame to the family, are illegal in Russia and Chechnya.
Kadyrov has ruled the Muslim republic since 2007 after the assassination of his father.
In the TV interview, he declared: “If we have such people here, then I’m telling you officially, their relatives won’t let them be, because of our faith, our mentality, customs and traditions.
“Even if it’s punishable under the law, we would still condone it.”
Kadyrov not only rules over Chechnya, but also runs the Akhmat Fight Club gym and the Akhmat MMA promotion in the Chechen capital of Grozny.
The interview with HBO was to promote the country’s sports industry – with numerous sports stars agreeing to appear with the warlord, it’s presumed for large fees.
President Kadyrov once again denied reports of the gay purge in the region, however.
“If there were any gay people living in the region, then they should move to Canada.
He also said that “they are not people”.
The comments came after David Scott of HBO asked Kadyrov about “the alleged roundup, abduction and torture of gay men in the Republic”.
Kadyrov retorted: “Why did he come here? What’s the point of these questions?
“This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here.
“We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada,” he said.
He went on to add that homosexual needed to be removed from Chechnya to “purify” the “blood” of the region.
He said: “Praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home.
“To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.
“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people.
“God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”
Chechnya has been in an almost permanent state of war for generations, with most Chechens knowing nothing but bombings and attacks.
“This is how they teach us from childhood,” Kadyrov said.
“My father told me when I was a little boy, if you’re coming home because you got scared, don’t come home.
“I have no need for you. You’re not a girl, you’re a man.
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“While a Jewish parent might say to their child, ‘You’ll be a professor, a scientist,’ here our parents say, ‘He’s going to be a warrior.’”
Initial reports of gay men being detained in the region, which is subject to federal law as it falls under the Russian federation, were revealed by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.
Following the initial exposure, it has been revealed that Chechnya authorities are forcing gay men into concentration camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.
A number of heart breaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.
Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.