Vladimir Putin has vowed to investigate ‘the whole truth’ about Chechnya’s gay concentration camps, according to France’s president.
Emmanuel Macron made the announcement during a joint press conference with the Russian president in Versailles yesterday (29 May).
Macron, who was elected three weeks ago, said he had raised concerns over the treatment of gay men and transgender people in Chechnya.
During their meeting the two presidents discussed the reports of ‘collective punishment’, according to the New York Times, and agreed on ‘regular monitoring’ of the situation.
‘Collective punishment’ is a euphemism for Chechnya’s six concentration camps, where at least 200 men were believed to be held illegally.
These camps have now been destroyed and prisoners were taken to an unknown location, sparking fears amongst activists.
‘I emphasized to President Putin…how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities,’ Macron said.
‘We spoke about the cases of LGBT people in Chechnya… I told President Putin what France is expecting regarding this issue, and we agreed to regularly check on this subject.’
Putin had already said he would have talks with members of his government about an investigation.
But speaking to Macron, the Russian president is quoted as vowing to find ‘the whole truth’.
‘President Putin told me… he had undertaken several initiatives on the subject of LGBT people in Chechnya,’ Macron said.
‘With measures aimed at establishing the whole truth about the activities of local authorities.’
Macron also said he would be ‘constantly vigilant’ about the situation in Chechnya.
While Putin did not dispute any of Macron’s statements, he also did not mention gay people even just once throughout the press conference.
On 1 April, Russian newspaper Novoya Gazeta published an article alleging Chechnya was operating a concentration camp for gay men.
At least 100 men were believed to be detained, and three had been killed.
Later in April, news broke that the number of camps had gone up to six, with at least 200 men illegally held.
Survivors reported being subject to violence and torture, in one case by using a homemade ‘electric chair’, so they would give up the names of other gay men.
Human Rights Watch released a detailed report based on its own investigation last week.