Russian region reportedly opens concentration camps for gay men

Early reports emerged earlier this month that gay people are being targeted in Chechyna

Russian media is reporting that gay men arrested in a 'purge' in the area of Chechyna have been placed in concentration camps.

Reports emerged earlier this month that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia, but has substantial autonomy.

It was reported that more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such”.

A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the report by the newspaper, calling the article published on April 1st “absolute lies and disinformation.”

“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the spokesman, Alvi Karimov, said.

“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

Now, the Novaya Gazette is reporting that a secret prison has been set up in the town of Argun to detain the men arrested in the purge, based on interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors.

One man who was released from the camp told the newspaper that he was subjected to violent “interrogations” at the camp, as Chechen officials attempted to get him to confess the names and locations of more gay men. His mobile phone was also seized by officials.

The camp was reportedly set up by Chechen forces in a former military headquarters in the town.

The newspaper reports allegations that the Speaker of the Parliament of Chechnya was among officials to visit the site, though the claims have not been substantiated.

In a statement, the Russiam Programme Director of Human Rights Watch Tanya Lokshina said: "It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant.

"LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to “honour killings” by their own relatives for tarnishing family honor."