Over 100 gay men have been sent to concentration camps for homosexuals in Chechnya and three people have been killed, a new report has claimed.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and human rights activists allege that anyone authorities suspect are gay is rounded up and sent to these camps, where inmates are reportedly tortured.
A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied the allegations, claiming that gay people don't exist in the region.
Alvi Karimov told Interfax news agency: "You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.
"If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning."
One of Chechnya's human rights officials, Kheda Saratova, echoed those sentiments as he dismissed the report.
He told a Russian radio station: "I haven’t had a single request on this issue, but if I did, I wouldn’t even consider it.
"In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society."
Chechnya is formally a part of Russia but now acts as a semi-independent state.
An LGBT group condemned the reports and said they will help anyone affected.
Russian group LGBT Network said: "No national and/or religious traditions and norms can justify kidnapping or killing of a human being.
"Any references to “traditions” to justify kidnappings and killings are amoral and criminal.
"The Russian LGBT Network is ready to evacuate people."