Putin supports plan to investigate reported abuse of gays

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After repeatedly stating that he would not be investigating the abuse of gay and bi men in Chechnya, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will speak with officials in the region after Russia's human rights ombudsman put in a request, reports NBC News.

The muscle-bound former insurgent turned Kremlin-loyalist responded to Putin's comments on Friday by telling journalists his authorities were "ready to closely cooperate" with Moskalkova, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Putin has agreed to the proposal for investigating what he called the "well-known information, or rumors" about what is happening to people "with a non-traditional sexual orientation".

When originally confronted with the allegations, Mr Kadyrov's spokesman Alvi Karimov said it was not possible that gays had suffered abuse because homosexuals "don't exist" in Chechnya.

More than 100 gay men were arrested and tortured, at least two killed by relatives and one died in custody, the Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported in April.

"Chechen society does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation".

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Ms Merkel at a press conference with Mr Putin in Moscow on Tuesday raised the "very negative reports" and said she had asked Mr Putin to "use his influence to guarantee the rights of minorities".

Kadyrov said the Chechen authorities had not received any official reports of mistreatment from LGBT people in the republic. "We have never had them among the Chechens", Kadyrov said.

The independent "Novaya Gazeta" newspaper reported in April that Chechen authorities have been rounding up and torturing gay men, triggering an global outcry over human rights in the conservative Muslim region.

But Mr Kadyrov claimed gay men in the republic were not true Chechens and were simply pretending to be Chechen in order to "get to the West".

More than 600 demonstrators descended upon the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday to protest the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.

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