Chechnya gay rights: Merkel urges Putin to intervene

Detained gay rights activist in Moscow with sign saying 'love is stronger than homophobia', 25 May 13Image copyright

Image caption

“Love is stronger than homophobia”: a placard held by a detained gay rights activist in Moscow in May 2013

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to help protect gay rights in Chechnya.

Activists say police in the republic have arrested and tortured dozens of people in an anti-gay crackdown.

Mrs Merkel raised the issue during her first visit to Russia since 2015, which saw her hold talks with Mr Putin at his summer residence in Sochi.

Relations between the two nations have been strained over Syria and Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The civil wars in Syria and Ukraine were discussed by the two leaders.

Mr Putin is due to meet Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan later on Wednesday.

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Homophobia is widespread in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region run by Ramzan Kadyrov, an authoritarian leader with a notorious private militia who is fiercely loyal to President Putin.

Last month, Natalia Poplevskaya of the Russian LGBT Network said there was “an organised campaign to detain gay men” in Chechnya.

Victims of the crackdown – who were either gay or just perceived to be gay – were being held at a detention centre near Argun, 20km (13 miles) from the city of Grozny, she said.

“Torture is going on with electric shocks, beatings with cables,” she told the BBC, adding that three deaths had been reported. “All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay.”

A Chechen government spokesman, Alvi Karimov, denied the allegations.

“You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,” he said.

Chechnya gay rights: Merkel urges Putin to intervene

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