Newly elected French President Emmanuel Marcon on May 29, 2017, raised the ongoing crackdown against gay Chechen men during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that took place outside Paris. Photo by OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS; courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Macron Discusses Gay Chechnya Crackdown with Putin

BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS, WASHINGTON BLADE

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said he discussed the crackdown against gay Chechens with his Russian counterpart.

"We discussed the situation of LGBT people in Chechnya," wrote Macron on his Twitter page after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris. "I very specifically told President Putin what France's expectations are."

Macron also noted the crackdown against gay Chechens as he spoke at a press conference with Putin.

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses.

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, reported last month that Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 gay men since February.

Novaya Gazeta has said some of the men who have been arrested have been beaten, tortured or even killed. Reports also indicate Chechen authorities have sent them to secret prisons that have been described as "concentration camps."

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin have downplayed or even dismissed the reports that gay men have been arrested. Novaya Gazeta reported last week that the Russian government has launched an investigation into the crackdown.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month raised Chechnya with Putin during their meeting that took place in Russia. British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the other world leaders who have condemned the crackdown.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley in an April 17 statement said the U.S. remains "disturbed" by the arrests of the gay Chechen men.

The State Department last month urged the Russian government to investigate them. President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have neither publicly commented on the arrests nor urged the Russian government to pressure Chechen authorities to stop their crackdown.

Macron on May 7 defeated Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front in the second round of France's presidential election.

Macron accused Russian hackers of targeting his campaign in the days leading up to the election. The Russian government has repeatedly denied it sought to influence the outcome of the French election, even though Putin met with Le Pen at the Kremlin on March 24.

The first round of the French presidential election took place on April 23.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.
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