Russian Foreign Minister somehow denies gay purge is happening in Chechnya

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister has denied all reports of a gay purge in Chechnya, saying that “there is not a single concrete fact” to show it is happening.

More than 100 people have been detained, tortured and, in at least 26 cases, killed since the purge of gay men in Chechnya started around two months ago.

The purge has been separately confirmed by Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that confirm gay men have been targeted.

russian foreign minister sergei lavrov

HRW said it was left with “no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”

But speaking at a news conference broadcast by Agence France-Presse, Sergei Lavrov rejected the huge mound of evidence which shows that a gay purge is going on in his country.

“We don’t see one concrete fact…on the issue of accusations of rights abuses of LGBT representatives in Chechnya or other parts of the Russian Federation,” he said.

“There is not a single concrete fact; there are no surnames.

“If there are facts, if there are surnames, then our answers will be concrete.

“But I repeat that we have no relation to the overwhelming majority of the allegations,” Russia’s top diplomat finished.

Another top Russian diplomat, Dmitry Alushkin, also said earlier this month that no LGBT people had been persecuted in Chechnya.

The senior figure at Russia’s embassy in Israel added that reports of a gay purge had been used as “a propaganda campaign against Russia around the world”.

Today, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov challenged German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to visit his region and find proof of the gay purge.

Kadyrov also accused the leaders “and all who sympathise with them” of stirring up “pathetic nausea on the side of a stranger.”

The German and French leaders have both spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Chechnya this month in an effort to stop the persecution of gay men in the region.

Russia has opened an investigation which Kadyrov said he would cooperate with, though he denied there have ever been any gay men to persecute in the region, instead calling them “fake” Chechens.

And Russian officials dismissed all reports as “false” just a few days later.

Petition: Stop the persecution of gay men in Chechnya

In April, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on the gay persecution and the journalists who uncovered the story had been forced into hiding after receiving death threats.

Since then, LGBT groups have tried to help gay men escape from the Russian region.

The Russian LGBT Network has helped to evacuate 42 gay men from the region, with those involved describing the “deadly dangerous” situation they found there.

A number of heart-breaking stories from the region have also been shared, including reports of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.

Last week, one of the concentration camps holding gay men was destroyed, with victims moved on to a new location.

Watch the full video of Lavrov’s denial: