GROZNY, May 23. /TASS/. The hype over the alleged persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya is nothing more than a sponsored campaign, Chechen Human Rights Ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiyev said in a statement published on his official website on Tuesday.
"There is not a single piece of evidence to prove that such people exist in Chechnya, let alone are subject to persecution," he pointed out.
"Numerous probes conducted by state agencies, including us, did not prove the allegations expressed by the Novaya Gazeta daily," he said. "It seems, some forces have been ordered to stir up the hype, and received money to implement the plan," the ombudsman added.
According to Nukhazhiyev, the whole story has been invented while the hype is being deliberately boosted to undermine the foundations of the Chechen society.
"The interesting thing is that no one saw anything, no one knows anyone but provocative information is being spread to hurt Chechens’ feelings while those insulting the people claim to be virtuous. It is a well-known mean trick," the human rights ombudsman said.
Chairman of Chechnya’s Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Timur Aliyev, in turn, said that the May 22 article entitled Panic and Sabotage in Chechnya was based on false facts.
Russia's National Guard earlier denied media reports saying that three residents of Chechnya, including one member of the National Guard, had been killed on suspicion of homosexuality.
On April 1, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta daily raised the issue of gay people’s civil rights being violated in Chechnya. In an article entitled "Honor Killing," the daily reported, citing anonymous sources in law enforcement agencies and unnamed victims, that some residents of Chechnya had been detained and allegedly killed over their non-traditional sexual orientation.
On April 20, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that allegations about the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya were groundless. On the same day, Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova suggested that reports about the alleged persecution of individuals, who were of non-traditional sexual orientations in Chechnya could be a provocation.
Chechnya’s Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights said that after assessing the situation it had found neither direct, nor indirect evidence to back up these allegations.
On May 5, Moskalkova informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that she had been tackling violations of LGBT people’s rights and asked him to issue instructions on setting up an inter-agency working group that would be active in Central Russia instead of Chechnya and receive people’s requests if any were made. Putin promised to discuss the civil rights issue of LGBT people in the North Caucasus with Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.
In early May, top diplomats from five EU member states forwarded a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, stressing that media reports about the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya had raised great concern in the European capitals. On April 25, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution expressing concern over the human rights situation in Russia’s North Caucasus.
Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, in turn, said that regional authorities were ready to cooperate with federal agencies in order to look into media reports about the situation with sexual minorities in the region. However, no official reports on their persecution have been received yet. Kadyrov was confident that the West knew perfectly well that these persecution allegations were false "but they are used to saying what is in their interest instead of telling the truth," he added.
On May 13, Chechnya’s Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said that the ministry had conducted a probe into the Novaya Gazeta’s publications but found no evidence to prove its allegations.