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Amnesty Challenges Russia Over Abuse Of Gays In Chechnya

A demonstrator holds a poster depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin to denounce the antigay campaign launched in the Russian region of Chechnya during a protest in Paris last month.

Amnesty International says it plans to hand petitions against the abuse of gay men in Chechnya to Russian embassies around the world on June 2.

In a May 31 statement, Amnesty said it had gathered more than half a million signatures worldwide on petitions against persecution of men perceived to be gay in the region in Russia's North Caucasus.

"The clock is ticking for gay men in Chechnya, who are living under the shadow of this terrifying purge," said John Dalhuisen, the London-based group's director for Europe and Central Asia.

"We are urging the international community to open their doors to all those fleeing homophobic persecution in Chechnya," he said.

Along with petition hand-ins, Amnesty will organize protests and other actions outside Russian embassies in Canada and several European countries this week and next.

After an initial report in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta on April 1 that said gay men in Chechnya were being rounded up, tortured, and killed, several outlets including RFE/RL have spoken to Chechens who have fled the alleged abuse.

In a report on May 26, Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed that police in Russia's Chechnya region tortured and humiliated dozens of gay or bisexual men during the spring of 2017 in "an apparent effort to purge them from Chechen society."

On May 29, after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had raised these reports with Putin.

Amnesty International called on Russian authorities "to proceed to a full-blown criminal investigation, and to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of individuals who may be at risk in Chechnya."

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