Police in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya have been rounding up and killing gay men, according to the reputable Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
More than 100 men have been arrested thus far "in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such," the New York Times reports, citing Novaya Gazeta.
At least three of those arrested have been killed. The newspaper's report claimed that well-known TV personalities and religious figures were among those detained.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's spokesman denied the report, claiming there are no homosexuals living in the region.
“You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” the spokesman, Alvi Karimov, told Interfax on Saturday, according to The Guardian.
“If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
Chechnya, which is part of Russia but functions as a quasi-independent state, is a strictly conservative society. The Guardian reports that because of that anyone suspected of homosexuality is "likely to be disowned by their own families."
An LGBT rights organization located in St. Petersburg has reportedly set up an anonymous hotline for gay people wishing to be evacuated from the republic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.