Local Russian media has reported that at least 27 men were confirmed killed without trial by Chechen authorities. The extrajudicial killings occurred amidst an LGBT purge in the Russian province.
Chechnya, a federal subject of Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration, has been accused of human rights abuses throughout 2017 for rounding up gay men and cloistering them in concentration camps.
On July 9, Radio Free Europe cited Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in reporting that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's security forces had summarily executed 27 people, publishing the names of the deceased.
In December 2016, Chechen authorities initiated mass arrests surrounding the republic's capital, Grozny, following the killing of a law enforcement officer. On Jan. 25, authorities executed 27 of the detainees in the middle of the night without trial.
"All attempts to learn anything about these people were met with incredible fear from everyone we questioned," the newspaper noted, according to Radio Free Europe.
A representative of the Russian LGBT Network affirmed the newspaper's reporting. The representative also confirmed that several of the detainees were gay but could not confirm whether their killings were strictly part of the Chechen LGBT purge.
"As far as we know, the information in the Novaya Gazeta regarding 27 people being killed is true," the representative told Pink News. "With regards to the sexual orientations of those killed, as far as we know there are homosexual people in this list, but not all of them at all."
Kadyrov's government has been accused of purging Chechnya's LGBT population. The republic has reportedly established concentration camps where prisoners are questioned and tortured for their sexual orientation.
On June 27, the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan resolution condemning the Chechen government's actions and urging Putin to open up an inquiry, NBC News reports.
"We will continue to stand united with the LGBT community and shine a bright light on these atrocities, which are encouraged by the evil Putin regime in Russia, in order to help ensure that those who are responsible for these crimes are held to account for their despicable actions," said GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.
Kadyrov has denied the accusations of an LGBT purge, asserting that gay men do not exist in his country.
"You cannot arrest or repress people who just don't exist in the republic," Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov told Russian media, according to The Independent. "If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return."
Ayub Kataev, the warden of an Argun prison accused of rounding up and torturing gay men, used a similar defense.
"Imagine if there are gays -- would we, the Chechens, communicate with them at all?" Kataev told Vice News. "My officers would not even want to touch such people -- if they exist -- let alone beating or torturing them."