UN Urges Russia to 'End Persecution' of Gays After Reports of Killings in Chechnya

A Russian newspaper reported that police in the predominantly Muslim republic have rounded up over 100 men and killed at least three

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 10, 2015.

The UN Commissioner for Human Rights' office condemned on Thursday reports of the abuse and killings of gay men in Russia's southern republic of Chechnya.

The respected Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported earlier this month that police in the predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya have rounded up more than 100 men who are accused of homosexuality and that at least three of them have been killed. Chechen authorities have denied these reports.

The Geneva-based office in a statement called upon the Russian government "to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual ... who are living in a climate of fear fueled by homophobic speeches by local authorities."

Quoting federal law enforcement officials, Novaya Gazeta said that the men were detained in connection with "their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such."

Chechnyan authorities denied the report and described it as "absolute lies and disinformation." A spokesman for Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly said it was impossible such incidents occurred because there are no gay men in the region. 

The round-ups and killings started after a Moscow-based gay rights group began applying for permits to hold pride parades in the Muslim-majority northern Caucus region, where Chechnya is located, the report said. Local authorities reportedly proceeded to track down and detain gay men by posing as potential partners on social networking sites.