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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that authorities in Chechnya are arresting and killing homosexuals.

The daily reported on April 1, citing a range of unnamed sources, that "more than 100" homosexual men had been detained in Chechnya in recent days and that three had been killed.

Without giving specific figures or naming officials, the Novaya Gazeta report said that "information about detentions" of gay men had been confirmed by regional Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service (FSB), and prosecutorial officials, as well as LGBT activists.

The report was rejected by the press spokesman for Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov as "an absolute lie and disinformation."

"You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic," he said. "If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn't need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning."

Chechen human rights activist Kheda Saratova, a member of the presidential human rights council, told Russian state radio that the police and "entire judicial system" in Chechnya treat the murders of homosexuals by their relatives "with understanding."

She said that she herself would "not even bother considering" a claim regarding such a crime.

Based on reporting by Meduza, Ekho Moskvy, and Novaya Gazeta

China's far western region of Xinjiang has introduced a range of restrictions as part of what it describes as a campaign against religious extremism.

The regulations were passed by Xinjiang lawmakers this week and came into effect on April 1.

They include prohibiting "abnormally" long beards, the wearing of robes that cover the whole body and face, and refusing to watch or listen to government propaganda on radio or television, according to the text of measures published on a government website.

Authorities in Xinjiang have issued a series of measures in the past years to tackle what they see as a rise in Islamist extremism.

The region is the homeland of the Turkic-speaking and mainly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

The area has been hit by deadly unrest in recent years. Beijing blames the violence on Islamist militants and separatists, but rights groups say the unrest is a reaction to repressive Chinese policies.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and the BBC

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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