Chechnya's strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov has claimed that gay rights and human rights groups in the region are inventing stories of homophobia for money as his government faces accusations of the torture and detention of gay men and activists in the autonomous region.
"All those who defend human rights groups and the gays we supposedly have in the Chechen Republic are foreign agents," Kadyrov told a BBC reporter when she managed to question the secretive leader at the opening of a ski resort. He went on to say that the activists had "sold out their country, their people, their religion".
Reports of human right violations in the region was "all an invention by foreign agents who are paid a few kopecks," Kadyrov told the reporter, adding: "So-called human rights activists make up all sorts of nonsense for money." The reporter was quickly blocked from further questioning the leader by his security detail.
Chechen authorities have been repeatedly accused of rounding up and torturing gay men in the region, one Russian newspaper even reported they were being kept in concentration camp-style prisons. The region's government deny any such incidents occur with Kadyrov going so far as to claim there were no homosexuals in the region to begin with.
The US Treasury announced in December that Kadyrov would be targeted with sanctions as he "oversees an administration involved in disappearances and extra-judicial killings". It added: "One of Kadyrov's political opponents was believed to have been murdered at Kadyrov's direction, after making allegations of torture and ill-treatment taking place in Chechnya, including alleged torture carried out by Kadyrov personally."
Kadyrov was also recently kicked off his personal instagram account, which had over three million followers, a loss which has reportedly left the strongman devastated. He also had a Facebook account deleted.