'Chechnya imprisons homosexuals in concentration camps'

About 100 SSA men arrested, three of them killed in Muslim state. Merkel asks Putin to intervene.

Mordechai Sones ,

Protest in front of Russian Embassy
Protest in front of Russian Embassy

According to reports from Chechnya, the state has been conducting severe persecution of men with same-sex attraction (SSA) in recent weeks.

About 100 men suspected of being SSA were arrested. According to many testimonies, they are being held in a detention facility about 20 kilometers from Grozny, and cases of torture involving electric shocks have been reported.

Three of the detainees reportedly died amid claims of "concentration camps" for SSAs.

In a meeting Tuesday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Merkel demanded that Putin intervene to put an end to this persecution in Chechnya, which is part of Russia. She raised the issue at a joint press conference the two held in Sochi, during her first visit to Russia since 2015.

Merkel called on the Russian government to conduct a proper investigation into the reports about Chechnya and to ensure that minorities are given full protection. She also scolded Russia for forcibly dispersing protests in Moscow against what was happening in Chechnya.

The Chechen government denied the reports, and a spokesman, Albi Krimov, even claimed there were no SSAs in the autonomous Muslim republic in southwestern Russia. "You cannot arrest and oppress people who simply do not exist in the republic," he declared.

The Kremlin, for its part, backed the Chechens' denials and said that it has "no information" to support the claims of journalists and activist groups.