Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that there are any gay men to persecute in the region, rather labelling them “fake” Chechens.
Kadyrov has insisted that he will cooperate with a Russian investigation into the discovery of persecution against gay people in the region, but denied that any gay people actually existed.
The region’s leader made the comments after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced intentions to investigate reports of gay men being abducted, tortured and killed in the republic.
Kadyrov said: “We have never had them among the Chechens.”
“Unless we are talking about those who aren’t Chechens but say they are so that they can get to the West.”
“Chechen society does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation. For thousands of years the people have lived by other rules, prescribed by God,” he added.
Although Kadyrov said said that he and the republic were open to investigation, he insisted that they had not received any “official reports” of the abuse of LGBT people.
Initial reports of gay men being detained in the region, which is subject to federal law as it falls under the Russian federation, were revealed by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.
Following the initial exposure, it has been revealed that Chechnya authorities are forcing gay men into concentration camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.
A number of heart breaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.
Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.
Britain’s deputy foreign secretary revealed the terrifying threat from the Chechen leader while taking an urgent question on the situation in parliament.
Ramadan starts on May 26 this year, and is widely celebrated in Chechnya, which is a predominantly Muslim area.