Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, says that there are no gay men in the republic, and if there are any, they should “take them to Canada.”
In an interview with Real Sports’ host Bryant Gumbel, Kadyrov sidestepped accusations that the Chechen government has abducted and tortured gay and bisexual men.
“This is nonsense,” Kadyrov said. “We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada, praise be to God. Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home.”
Kadyrov said that if there are any gay men in Chechnya, they should be taken away “to purify our blood.”
According to the Russian LGBT Network, over 100 gay and bisexual men were kidnapped and tortured by Chechen authorities earlier this year and the crackdown has started up again. Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper which broke the story, recently published the names of 27 men believed to have been killed by Chechen security forces in a mass execution in January 2017.
“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people,” Kadyrov told Real Sports. “God damn them for what they are accusing us of. They will have to answer to the Almighty for this.”
Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization that helps LGBT people whose lives are at risk, has helped resettle seven men outside of Russia.
Kadyrov, a former Chechen rebel who fought against the Russian state, now rules the semi-autonomous republic as a proxy for the Russian government. For months he has denied that any anti-gay crackdown is taking place and that gay men even exist in Chechnya.
The Real Sports interview will air on HBO on July 18.