Authorities in Chechnya have arrested more than one hundred men, with reports three dead.
Chechen authorities are posing as men looking for dates on Russian social networking sites and trapping gay men, according to Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Gay men are being detained ‘in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,’ reports indicate.
According to the New York Times, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied the reports.
Denying any existence of gay men, the spokesperson said: ‘You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.
‘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,’ the spokesperson said.
Chechnya is a republic of Russia and is largely divided after years of devastating wars.
Homosexuality is illegal and anti-gay sentiment remains high among the predominantly muslim population.
The aggression arose from a Russian activist group applying for a permit to have a gay pride parade.
The Russian LGBT Network responded to the claims, saying they were ‘highly disturbed and concerned’ with the reports.
A statement read: ‘Any references to “traditions” to justify kidnappings and killings are amoral and criminal.
‘The Russian LGBT Network makes every effort to contact the victims and to provide the emergency support.
‘Taking into account the recent statements of the Chechnya officials, we believe that the only thing that can work out is the evacuation,’ the statement read.
Concerned citizens of Chechnya are advised to help spread information on evacuation procedures or call the helpline on 8 800 555 73 74.
The Russian LGBT Network says: ‘We understand that many people want to help those in need.
‘But please remember that any uncoordinated actions can put in additional danger people in need and those who are ready to help.
‘Therefore, we do not recommend to collect the addresses of people who are ready to provide temporarily shelter,’ they said.