US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley condemns LGBTQ attacks in Chechnya

Haley, who holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, said that on April 18 she would lead the council's first-ever meeting on human rights "to underscore our commitment to addressing human rights abuses wherever they threaten global peace and security".

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the reports, saying that he does "not have any reliable information about any problems" in Chechnya, a Muslim-majority republic of Russia.

"My vehicle got stopped at a Chechen police checkpoint and they asked me for my documents", said the man, who asked to be identified as "Ahmed".

Asked to comment on the Novaya Gazeta report, Kadyrov's spokesman claimed that such punitive treatment of gay men in Chechnya was impossible since they "do not exist" in the region.

While casual homophobia is common in Russian Federation, the problem is particularly acute in conservative Chechnya, where homosexuality is taboo and seen in many families as a moral failing that should be punished by death.

Aside from government suppression, gay men in Chechnya also face severe social stigma. "They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me", another Chechen man told CNN at a safe house where we arranged to meet.

The purge is apparently being carried out by police and security forces under the command of Chechnya's President Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman leader appointed by the Kremlin to keep control of the troubled region.

"In Chechnya, I had no choice but to lie or die", says the 20-year-old. The Guardian reports that Thursday saw a protest of up to 15,000 people outside a mosque in Chechnya's capital city, Grozny.

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Furthermore, Novaya Gazeta has called out Russia's Investigative Committee (ICR) for failing to look into the possible human rights abuses, stating that the law requires the ICR to respond to such reports within 10 days. "More than 30 people have already been provided with support".

The men from Chechnya who spoke to CNN insisted their biggest concern was being outed as gay by the Chechen authorities.

In a statement Monday, UN ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.S.is "disturbed" by the reports seeping out of Chechnya, and has called on Chechen authorities to "immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses".

"By helping me, the Network has handed me a reprieve - but they'll find me in the end", he says quietly.

In March he was held "in an unofficial prison" for a week, the man said. According to the newspaper, more than 100 gay men were arrested and at least three killed, prompting characterizations that they were being detained in "concentration camps." The letter came in advance of today's thematic hearing on human rights at the U.N. Security Council.

Prosecutors launched a formal investigation on Monday.

Journalists with Novaya Gazeta have admitted that they fear for their safety as there have been threats of reprisals.

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