Russia’s foreign minister says there is no proof that human rights violations are being carried out against Chechnya’s LGBT+ community in a video recorded by AFP.
Sergei Lavrov addressed journalists in Moscow, dismissing reports that over 100 gay men have been detained and tortured in the autonomous Russian region.
“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."
He continued: “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.”
Lavrov’s statements are in sharp contrast to that of world leaders—including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron—who have called for an end to the anti-gay violence in Chechnya.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch documents the purge in great detail, based on interviews with men who had been rounded up, journalists and members of a Russian LGBT organisation who have assisted in evacuating people from Chechnya.
The report calls on President Vladimir Putin to publicly condemn the purge and conduct a thorough, impartial investigation. It also urges the international community to continue to put pressure on Russia to take action and to provide sanctuary for the victims.
France welcomed its first gay refugee from Chechnya yesterday with the president of a French LGBTI organisation saying that he will be the first of many.
Joël Deumier added that Russia was turning a blind eye to the atrocities in Chechnya.
“We hear Mr Putin has said that he has started an investigation, that it is not true, that there is no violence or murder of gay people," Deumier said. “That’s completely false. We have concrete proof. We can no longer accept this discourse of denial from Russia against gay people.”