Moscow: German Chancelloer Angela Merkel has raised concerns over the reported persecution of gay men in Chechnya with Russian President Vladimir Putin, following a meeting in Sochi.
Merkel raised the question of the alleged capture and abuse of more than 100 people, while addressing a joint press conference with the Russian President, The Independent reports.
The Kremlin has, however, backed the Chechen Government’s denials over the brutal campaign, citing it had “no information” to support research by journalists and human rights groups.
Following this, Merkel called on the Russian Government to properly investigate the allegations and ensure that LGBT people were fully protected in the territories, while also calling for freedom of assembly to be protected.
“It’s important to have the right to demonstrate in a democracy, and the role of NGOs is very importance,” Merkel said.
“I asked Mr Putin to use his influence to protect these minority rights, as well as in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Syria dominated the pair’s meeting with Merkel calling on Russia to guarantee repeatedly failed ceasefires in both wars.
“Those guilty must be found and punished, but this can be only done after an impartial investigation,” Putin said.
“A solution in Syria can be only found by peaceful means and under the aegis of the United Nations,” he added.
Putin also denied that Moscow ever interfered in elections in other countries. He said accusations of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were “simply rumours” and were being used as part of the political fight in Washington.