Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov said late on May 5 that he is "ready to closely cooperate" with Kremlin officials looking into reports of alleged persecution of gay men in the republic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier in the day that he would personally "talk to the prosecutor-general and the interior minister" to ask them to help Kremlin rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova check out the reports, which have drawn international condemnation.
"Chechnya is keen to make it known to Western politicians who speak out on this topic, including Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, that all their statements on the matter are baseless," Kadyrov told Russian media.
But while he is ready to cooperate with the investigation, he said, "the West has been inflating this topic," and asserted -- as he has before -- that Chechnya doesn't have any gay people.
"Chechen society does not have the phenomenon called nontraditional sexual orientation. Its people have lived for thousands of years according to different rules laid down by Allah," he said.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, TASS, and Interfax