The leader of Russia's Chechen Republic on May 30 invited the leaders of France and Germany to visit his region to determine whether reports about gay people being killed and tortured there are true.
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov on social media accused the European leaders of relying on "false information" from news reports and said French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were welcome to visit "in a search for the truth."
Numerous media outlets since April have reported that gay men in Chechnya were being rounded up, tortured, and killed by police. Human Rights Watch confirmed many of the news accounts in a report on May 26.
On May 29, after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had raised these reports with Putin.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on May 30 that such concerns about the abuse of gays in Chechnya are not based on fact.
"We don't see one concrete fact," he told reporters in Moscow. "If there are facts, if there are surnames, then our answers will be concrete."
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Interfax