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Chechnya’s president has once again denied accusations of anti-gay persecution by official authorities in the Russian republic, claiming that gay men do not even exist there.

Rejecting allegations that gay men have been detained, tortured and killed in the region, the region’s Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, said: “We don’t have those kinds of people here”.

The Russian newspaper which reported the claims in April says it believes at least 26 men have died in the crackdown, while horrific witness testimonies have told of families being summoned to kill their own gay relatives by Chechen authorities in a spate of state-backed ‘honour’ killings.

In an interview with David Scott from HBO’s Real Sports, Kadyrov dismissed “nonsense”.

He said: “We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada”.

The Chechen leader, whose government has long been accused of human rights abuses, described those making the allegations as “devils”.

“They are for sale. They are not people,” he said. “God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”

Reports of abuse against gay men in Chechnya have been widely condemned by governments across the world including Britain, France, Canada and Germany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an investigation into the claims in response to the international outcry, but it was swiftly ended after investigators claimed they could find no evidence of “victims of persecution, threats or violence.”

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