The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on the authorities in Russia's Chechnya region to allow international human rights organizations to conduct a "credible investigation into the alleged crimes against men perceived to be gay" in the North Caucasus republic.
The resolution, which passed with overwhelming support on May 18, also demands authorities end what it says is a campaign of persecution and "immediately release those who are still illegally detained."
It "deplores the unwillingness of local authorities to investigate and prosecute the serious violations directed specifically at individuals based on their sexual orientation, and reminds the authorities that the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression are universal rights and apply to all."
Russia has faced increasing pressure from human rights groups and Western governments following an April 1 report by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta on evidence of the torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya.
Since the Novaya Gazeta report, gay men from Chechnya have given personal accounts to RFE/RL and other media of their escape from the abuse they faced in the region, run by Kremlin-backed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who rights activists accuse of cultivating a culture of abuse and impunity.
After weeks of silence on the issue, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 5 that he would speak to top law enforcement officials about the allegations, but also suggested that the reports are merely "rumors."