Russian authorities have detained several activists in Moscow as they prepared to deliver a petition calling on authorities to investigate reports alleging a campaign of abuse targeting gay men in the southern region of Chechnya.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activist Igor Yasin said five activists were detained on May 11 as they were on their way to collect printouts of the petition, which they planned to bring to the Prosecutor-General's Office.
OVD-Info, a Russian site that tracks arrests and other police actions, cited activist Irina Yatsenko as saying that one of the detained activists was an Italian citizen.
Police said the group was held because its action was unauthorized.
The detentions come amid mounting international pressure over the alleged detention, torture, and killing of gay men in Chechnya, first reported on April 1 by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
The Russian LGBT Network says more than 2 million people signed the petition demanding "an unbiased investigation" into the reported abuses.
Amid an international outcry, President Vladimir Putin said on May 5 that he would speak to senior Russian law-enforcement officials about the matter, but suggested the accounts of abuse might just be "rumors."