A Russian official has confirmed that they will be looking into reports that Canada aided 31 gay men fleeing from Chechnya.
Over the weekend it was reported that the North American country have given asylum to 22 gay refugees in Chechnya over the past three months, helping them to escape the anti-gay purge that took place in the Russian republic.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been at the forefront of the operation, and the refugees are now residing in Canadian cities.
More were expecting to arrive in Canada in the coming weeks.
However, Kirill Kalinin, who is a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Ottawa, has now said that there will be a probe into the Canadian underground railroad operating out of Russia.
“Any legal irregularities, if proven true, shall be duly investigated,” he said in an email to The Globe and Mail.
That being said, because the Canadian government haven’t commented on the operation themselves, Kalinin refused to make any further remarks, adding: “We do not comment on media reports citing anonymous official ‘sources.'”
Speaking about the underground operation over the weekend, Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad stated: “We needed to be discreet about the program for as long as possible to maintain their safety.
“We now have to focus on settlement and integration of these individuals. And it’s important that our community, who are concerned about them, know that they’re here, that they’re safe.”
Regarding their integration into Canada, Powell added: “They are still a little bewildered. They’re going to need a lot of help. They’re still fearful for their lives. They’re still getting used to understanding that they’re safe, that they can start a new life.”
There have been chilling reports of young gay men being murdered by their own family members in Chechnya this year, as authorities tell parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.
A 17-year-old male was even murdered by his own uncle, after being pushed from his 9th floor balcony.
The Kremlin and Chechen government have both repeatedly denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region.
That’s despite Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, having publicly declared that he wanted all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26, which marked the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.
Earlier in August, it was also reported that Chechnya started charging gay men with terrorism, claiming they were members of ISIS – despite the Chechen president saying there are no gay people in the country.