Putin aide disputes Chechen-gay report

Posted: April 21, 2017 at 1 a.m.

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said he has no reason to doubt the Chechen leader’s assurances that there’s no persecution of gays in his republic, despite reports by a respected Russian newspaper of a roundup of gay Chechen men.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told journalists Thursday that investigators have found no evidence to back up reports by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper this month that police in the predominantly Muslim republic in southern Russia rounded up more than 100 men suspected of homosexuality and that at least three of them were killed.

Putin met late Wednesday with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who in the televised portion of the meeting suggested that Putin should not believe the “provocative” reports.

The reports, however, have been taken seriously by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and prominent international organizations, which have urged the Russian government to investigate.

Elaborating on Wednesday’s Kremlin meeting, Peskov said Kadyrov told Putin that the reports were “slanderous” and had angered many Chechens, but that journalists should not feel threatened.