Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov continues to insist that reports of an ongoing anti-gay purge in his country are part of an anti-Russian propaganda campaign.
In an interview with HBO reporter David Scott for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Kadyrov laughed at allegations that gay men were being abducted, tortured, and even killed because they are suspected of being gay or bisexual. He even attempted to challenge why Scott would ask him such a question.
The Chechen leader claims that the allegations are false, because gays do not exist in the predominantly Muslim Russian republic, reports The Washington Post.
“This is nonsense,” Kadyrov told Scott. “We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”
“Praise be to God,” Kadyrov continues. “Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
This is not the first time that Kadyrov has denied the existence of gay people in Chechnya. Spokesmen for both the Chechen and Russian governments have denied allegations of human rights abuses, saying: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
Since April, journalists and human rights advocates have claimed that Chechen authorities have been detaining, torturing and executing gay and bisexual men.
To that end, Kadyrov also accused reporters and activists who have been reporting on the anti-gay actions taken by Chechen authorities of lying about what is going on.
“They are devils,” Kadyrov said of the news media. “They are for sale. They are not people. God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”
Kadyrov also accused the United States of conducting an “anti-Russian policy against the country’s leadership,” and mocked it as weak, saying: “America is not really a strong enough state for us to regard it as an enemy of Russia,” while bragging about Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
Several foreign governments and major world leaders have denounced reports of the anti-gay abuse in Chechnya, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and French President Emmanuel Macron. The U.S. Congress also unanimously approved a resolution condemning the reports of anti-gay abuse and calling on Russian authorities to investigate the claims and punish those responsible.
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