Several gay men and women 'detained in Chechnya'

Several people have been detained in Chechnya, Russia, on suspicion of being gay in a throwback to an earlier crackdown, activists said.

The reports come a year and a half after more than 100 gay men in the Russian republic were arrested and tortured, and some of them were killed, according to activists.

Chechen authorities never admitted their role in the well-documented abuse, and federal authorities conducted a probe that did not produce any findings to back up the reports.

Prominent activist, Igor Kochetkov, told the Associated Press on Friday that gay rights supporters have seen a spike in detentions of men and women suspected of being gay since late December.

He would not say how many people have been detained or where they are now. He said the activists are preparing a short report to be released on Monday.

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which broke the news of the crackdown in 2017, earlier on Friday reported renewed persecution of gay people in Chechnya.

Russian authorities kept denying the killings and torture took place in the predominantly Muslim region where homosexuality is a taboo, even after one man came forward to talk about the time he spent in detention in Chechnya.

Maxim Lapunov said he was detained by unidentified people on a street in the Chechen capital Grozny, and kept in custody for two weeks, where he was repeatedly beaten.

He was let go after he signed a statement acknowledging he was gay and was told he would be killed if he talked about his time in detention.

Mr Lapunov, who is not an ethnic Chechen and who hails from Siberia, was the first to file a complaint with Russian authorities over the wave of arrests.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe last month called on Moscow to investigate the reports, and Mr Lapunov's case specifically.

- Press Association

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