President Ramzan Kadyrov has repeated his government’s claim that there are no gay men living the Russian region of Chechnya.
In April, independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the first to report that at least 100 men had been detained and violently tortured because of their homosexuality in secret prisons in the region, with several men reportedly dead.
In a new interview with HBO reporter David Scott, Kadyrov denied the reports and said gay people don’t exist in the Muslim majority country – and if they do, they should move to Canada.
“This is nonsense,” Kadyrov said, in a translated clip of the interview released by HBO.
“We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.
“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.”
Kadyrov also condemned the reporters and activists speaking out about LGBTI rights in Chechnya.
“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people,” he said.
“God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the almighty for this.”
2. Kadyrov says if there are any gay people in Chechnya they should be removed in order to purify the blood of the Chechen people. pic.twitter.com/oTshkbFGLO
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) July 14, 2017
A spokesperson for Kadyrov previously told a Russian news agency, “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
The allegations of the gay persecution in the region were met with international condemnation, and Australian senators from all sides united last month to move a motion calling for stronger international action.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told the Senate last month “credible information” indicated “very serious” abuses had occurred and the Australian government had raised the issue with the Russian government on five separate occasions, in both Moscow and Canberra.
(Photo via Kremlin.ru)