Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, has raised concerns about Chechnya’s crackdown on homosexuals. Merkel raised these concerns recently with Vladimir Putin during a meeting the two had on Tuesday in Sochi.
Tuesday’s meeting marked the first time that Merkel had visited Russia in over two years. She says that she spoke to Vladimir Putin about other human rights concerns as well. One of the other subjects she brought up was police breaking up anti-Kremlin protests. She also discussed a court ruling last month that banned the religion of Jehovah Witnesses and labeled it an extremist group, reports CNN.
Angela Merkel says that she spoke with Vladimir Putin about the immense importance of maintaining the right to demonstrate in a civil society. Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied that Russian police violated any protesters rights by placing them under arrest.
Putin went as far as to state that law enforcement in Russia has been more restrained than its European counterparts. He did not specify any countries.
Merkel expressed the desire to continue searching for solutions to global problems and she hoped that Russia would play an important role in that. Many western governments and human rights groups have urged Russia to consider repeated reports of the detention, torture, and murder of suspected gay men in the Republic of Chechnya.
The Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper has reported that police in the republic of Chechnya have gone to the streets to round up over 1oo men who were suspected of being gay. Reportedly three of those men were killed, reports the Telegraph.
The newspaper has published interviews of Chechen men who state that they fled Chechnya in fear after being detained and tortured. Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya has denied that any homosexual individuals have been detained. He denied the news reports during a conversation with Vladimir Putin. He even went as far as to state that he could not have detained, tortured or killed any homosexuals because homosexuals do not exist in Chechnya.
A spokesperson for Kadyrov stated during a television interview that one cannot arrest or repress people that do not exist. He added that if homosexuals did exist in Chechnya authorities would not have to deal with them because their families would have sent them away and told them not to return, reports the New York Daily News.
Activists in Russia have repeatedly stated that it is far too dangerous for homosexuals in Chechnya to speak out about the abuse that they have suffered. There is a deep-rooted antipathy for homosexuality throughout Russia and Vladimir Putin has taken no steps to deal with that.
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy Kremlin