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Russian police arrested LGBT activists protesting against the persecution of gay men in Chechnya

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Russain police have arrested LGBT activists who were protesting against the ‘killing and torture’ of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.

The arrests happened on May 1st in Saint Petersburg. It comes after respected Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported that at least 100 gay and bisexual men had been rounded up and taken to ‘torture camps’.

Spokesman for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Alvi Karimov, denied "such people" people live in the state, and called the newspaper report “absolute lies and disinformation”. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported Karimov's claims by also denying the existence of of gay and bisexual people in the region. 

According to Euro News, one person at Monday’s protest said: “Authorities in Chechnya deny these people help, they even deny they exist and deny the problem exists, and we are against it.”

Local news site Fontanka.ru claims 17 activists were arrested yesterday and there were shouts of "Kadyrov to the Hague”, in relation to the international court of justice. 

A Reuters cameraman saw police arresting several activists and bundling them into police vans.

Speaking to Reuters by telephone, one of those detained said: "I was waving a rainbow flag, and was shouting 'Kadyrov should go to the Hague'," 

The international community has strongly condemned the alleged torture, killing, and persecution of gay and bisexual men by the authorities in Chechnynya.

Amnesty International has created a petition, in order to urge the Russian and Chechen authorities to investigate the reports. It has so far been signed by 169,000 people. 

The petition states: "We need your help to call for prompt, effective and thorough investigations into the reports of abductions and killings of men believed to be gay in Chechnya. Anyone found guilty or complicit in such crimes must be brought to justice."

Last week, Yahoo! News’ Katie Couric asked a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman about the reported torture carried out against gay and bisexual men.

In response Maria Zakharova would only say an investigation was taking place and insisted: “This is not my issue, I’m not a specialist in that.”

Photos of yesterday's protest and arrests have been widely shared on social media: 

 

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