United Nations experts demanded on Thursday that Chechnya halt the abduction, detention, beating and killing of gay and bisexual men, after weeks of reports about violent repression there, reports the New York Times. “These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law,” the experts, a panel of five that advises the United Nations Human Rights Council, said in a statement. The experts noted that much of the abuse was reported to have taken place at an unofficial detention center near Grozny, the Chechen capital.
Since last month, reports have circulated that local militias and security forces have been hunting down, detaining and abusing men they perceived to be gay or bisexual. Dozens of men are said to have been rounded up. A spokesman for Chechnya’s strongman leader, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, issued a chilling denial after the initial reports surfaced. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the spokesman said. “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.”