July 14, 2017 at 3:09 pm PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Chechnya president: ‘We don’t have any gays’

Ramzan Kadyrov, gay news, Washington Blade

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said during an interview with “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” there are no gay men in his republic. (Photo by the Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation; courtesy www.kremlin.ru)

The president of Chechnya has once again dismissed allegations that his government has arrested and tortured gay men.

“This is nonsense,” said Ramzan Kadyrov during an interview that is scheduled to air on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on July 18. “We don’t have these kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any take them to Canada.”

“Praise be to God,” added Kadyrov, who initially dismissed the question about the crackdown in Chechnya. “Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood if there are any here, take them.”

Kadyrov spoke with “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” as part of a segment that focused on his promotion of mixed martial arts in the predominantly Muslim, semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses.

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, in April reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 men because of their sexual orientation — or perceived sexual orientation — since the beginning of the year. At least three men have reportedly died after their arrest, while others have been beaten and tortured and sent to secret prisons.

Kadyrov, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin have previously sought to downplay or even dismiss these reports. Kadyrov told “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that those who have made the allegations against his government are “devils” who are “for sale.”

“They are not people,” he said.

“God damn them for what they are accusing us of,” added Kadyrov. “They will have to answer to the almighty for this.”

The Russian LGBT Network — a Moscow-based advocacy group that is providing assistance to gay Chechens who have fled their homeland — has expressed skepticism over the Russian government’s claims it has launched an investigation into the crackdown. Recent reports indicate authorities have once again begun to detain gay men.

More than 50 members of Congress on Thursday urged President Trump to publicly condemn the ongoing crackdown and pressure the Russian government to stop it.

Michael Anton, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told the Los Angeles Blade earlier this week that he “was not told” that Chechnya “came up” during Trump’s meeting with Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7. A painting of a man who appears to be the Russian president was on a wall behind Kadyrov as he spoke with “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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