In a clash with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said the UK can’t ignore problems faced by LGBTI people in Chechnya.
In a press conference, Johnson also discussed the countries ‘difficult’ relationship with cyber attacks on the West and activity in Ukraine.
It’s the first visit by a British foreign minister to Russia in five years.
Underpinning how much the UK disagrees with much of Russian policy, he says ‘we speak up for the LGBT community in Chechyna and elsewhere as people would expect.’
But in an attempt at conciliation, Johnson also said people would expect the countries to work together where they did have common ground.
Lavrov denies the claims Moscow is using the cyber attacks and online meddling to interfere in democratic elections around the world. Going on to accuse Johnson of being a ‘hostage’ of untrue Western narratives.
However, the UK Foreign Secretary says there is ‘abundant evidence’ Russia attempted to influence polls. Including in the US, Germany, Denmark and France.
He also says Russia was unsuccessful at meddling in the Brexit referendum.
Frank talks w/ Russian foreign minister Lavrov in Moscow. We recognised many significant differences but agreed shared interests & global duties require dialogue. Talks covered UN security council priorities inc Iran/Syria/DPRK & bilateral relations pic.twitter.com/LkVRBwiaBa
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 22, 2017
Checynan leader banned from the US
This week United States banned Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov for ‘extrajudicial killing’ and human rights violations.
News broke earlier this year of the torture and killing of gay and bi men in Chechnya. Then Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, threatened to rid the area of homosexuality.
And now the US Department of the Treasury has applied sanctions against him, as well as four others.
A 2012 law known as the Magnitsky Act allows the country to withhold visas in light of human rights abuses.
LGBTI human rights groups in countries near Russia have also been describing how they face increasing hostility.
They say the reason for this is because of their powerful neighbor’s crackdown on the LGBTI community.
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