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Chechen Official Rejects New Novaya Gazeta Report On Alleged Executions

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

A Chechen official has rejected a report by a respected Russian newspaper that 27 Chechens had been executed without trial.

Dzhambulat Umarov, press and information minister for Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, said on July 31 that Chechen authorities detain people suspected of terrorist activities on a regular basis and the newspaper's reports had not proven that any detained individuals had been executed.

Umarov made his comments hours after the Novaya Gazeta report was published.

Novaya Gazeta's story built on a report it published earlier in July about 27 individuals allegedly executed without trial after they were implicated in December 17 shootouts with police in Chechnya's capital, Grozny.

The second report included more details, including photographs, of 24 of those men based on materials reportedly obtained from police in Chechnya, which has been led by Kremlin-backed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov for a decade.

The report also alleged that relatives of the missing Chechens were forced to sign papers saying the individuals had left Chechnya and that they have no grounds for filing missing-person reports.

Novaya Gazeta has angered Kadyrov with a series of reports alleging grave abuses -- including torture and executions -- by the law enforcement and paramilitary forces he oversees.

They have included recent reports of an alleged campaign of violence targeting gay men in Chechnya.

Kadyrov and other senior officials in Chechnya have repeatedly rejected these reports as untrue.

With reporting by