Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists said two people were killed and almost 40 jailed Monday in a government crackdown in the Chechnya region.
Activists said both deaths were the result of police torture.
The Russian LGBT Network, a nongovernmental organization that campaigns for equal rights for sexual minorities, said the crackdown began late last month with "a new wave of persecutions." The administrator of the social network VKontakte, which catered to gay men in North Caucasus, was among those arrested.
"Local police makes every effort to prevent victims from leaving the region or applying to the courts in the future," Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network said. "They take away documents, they threaten the victims with the criminal proceedings against them or their close ones, and they force them to sign empty forms."
Russian authorities have denied allegations of arbitrary detention and torture.
Claims of LGBT suppression in the area dates back to 2017 when the beatings of hundreds -- some injured by electric shocks in secret prisons -- drew international outrage and sanctions.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has published a report on human rights abuses in Chechnya, challenging the Kremlin to investigate the claims.
"The evidence clearly shows that the allegations of very serious human rights violations in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation have been found confirmed," the report states.
"This concerns in particular allegations of harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. In particular, several waves of violations of human rights and abuses of persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in 2017 could be confirmed. New purges were identified affecting alleged drug addicts and even teenagers."