Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen President, maintains there were no gays in his country.
Kadyrov declares there is no truth to claims LGBT people are being persecuted in Chechnya, PinkNews reports. Kadyrov also told the BBC gays had been operating as foreign agents defending human rights in the small country located in southern Russia.
Kadyrov has been accused of human rights atrocities. There are widespread reports of Chechen authorities rounding up and imprisoning LGBT people. Last summer the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the anti-gay violence in Chechnya.
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Kadyrov told PinkNews the reports are fabricated by human rights activists for financial gain. He reportedly told a representative from American television channel HBO that if there are gays in Chechnya they should be taken away to “purify our blood.”
On the Jan. 10, the U.S. Department of State released a statement saying they were troubled by the arrest of Oyub Titiev, a Chechen human right activist.
“This is the latest in a string of reports of alarming recent human rights violations in Chechnya,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert, in a press release. “We call on Chechen authorities to immediately release Mr. Titiev and allow independent civil society to operate free from harassment and intimidation.”
The State Department is urging Russian Federation officials to intervene on Titiev’s behalf to ensure his rights and protections according to the Russian constitution. Kadyrov is considered a strong supporter of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.