Angela Merkel is putting pressure on Vladimir Putin over Chechnya’s concentration camps for gay men.
The German Chancellor raised the issues today (2 May) during a visit to Sochi.
It is the first time she has visited the country since 2015.
During the press conference, Merkel said she had heard ‘negative reports on the way that homosexuals are dealt with, particularly in Chechnya’.
During their talks, the chancellor said she asked Putin to offer protection to gay men.
‘I asked President Putin to use his influence to ease the way that homosexuals… are dealt with in the country,’ she said.
Last month, news emerged of gay and bi men, including men who are believed to be gay, being detained in concentration camps.
At least 200 men are being held, and at least four have been killed so far.
Survivors shared harrowing accounts of torture, in one case by a ‘home-made’ electric chair, and violence in the camps, so they would give up the names of other gay men.
‘They say “Either you do it, or we will”,’ a source told France24.
‘They tortured a man for two weeks [then] they summoned his parents and brothers who all came.
‘[The authorities] said to them: “Your son is a homosexual – sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves.”‘
Alvi Karimov, a spokesperson for the Chechen government, denied allegations of running concentration camp.
‘You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,’ he said.
And Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, swore to eliminate the country’s gay community ‘by Ramadan’.
Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, begins on 26 May this year.