Italy's Foreign Ministry says it is seeking information about reports alleging that authorities in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya have been abducting, torturing, and killing gay men in an apparently coordinated campaign.
Foreign Undersecretary Benedetto Della Vedova said in an April 11 tweet that the ministry had "activated its offices for information on the situation of gays in Chechnya and on the reported, unacceptable violation of human rights."
The issue was raised by an gay-rights group and three Italian lawmakers as Italian President Sergio Mattarella met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
The respected independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta this month reported that more than 100 gay men had been rounded up in Chechnya in an "unprecedented campaign." At least three men were killed, the newspaper reported.
Authorities in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region led by Kremlin-loyal strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, have rejected the accusations.
Both the United States and the European Union have expressed concerns about the reports and urged Russia to investigate the claims.
With reporting by Novaya Gazeta and dpa