European Parliament Demands 'Credible Investigation' Into Abuse Of Gay Men In Chechnya

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BACKGROUND On 1 April, Russian independent daily newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported that over a hundred men believed to be gay had been abducted as part of a coordinated campaign.

In early May, top diplomats from five EU member states forwarded a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, stressing that media reports about the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya had raised great concern in the European capitals.

Around 40 Chechen gays and bisexuals have been hiding in other parts of Russian Federation, not able to acquire visas from a country willing to take them in, according to Buzzfeed.

Chechen authorities must end the persecution of gay men and an investigation must be held as a matter of urgency, MEPs said on Thursday.

Chechens may be having difficulty coming to the country on account of USA visa laws, which do not allow foreign visitors to receive a visa due to human rights concerns.

According to a report by Buzzfeed's J. Lester Feder published Tuesday, the Russian LGBT Network is claiming that the United States has declined to issue the visas.

A spokesperson for the State Department told BuzzFeed that the U.S.

Gays are fleeing Chechnya after the government began a brutal crackdown on the region's gay male population.

Svetlana Zakharova, a representative for the group Russia LGBT Network, told BuzzFeed "negotiations have been difficult" with countries that could provide safe haven for these queer refugees. "As advocates, it's our job to try to make that case here in Washington".

"The United States continues to be concerned about the situation in the Republic of Chechnya, where credible reports indicate at least 100 men have been detained on the basis of their sexual orientation", the State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

The group of approximately 40 are hiding in fear of retribution from the government in Chechnya, which is led by Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed an investigation into the persecution of LGBT communities in the southern Russian republic, but characterized the reports as "rumours, you could say, about what is happening in our North Caucasus with people of non-traditional orientation".

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