The United States has said it is "increasingly concerned" by reports that authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya are detaining gay men and in some cases torturing or killing them.
The independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper earlier this week reported that more than 100 homosexual men had been rounded up in Chechnya in an "unprecedented" campaign. At least three men were reported killed.
"We categorically condemn the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis," Mark Toner, acting spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said in a statement on April 7.
"We are deeply disturbed by recent public statements by Chechen authorities that condone and incite violence against [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] persons," he said.
"We urge Russian federal authorities to speak out against such practices, take steps to ensure the release of anyone wrongfully detained, conduct an independent and credible investigation into these reports, and hold any perpetrators responsible."