At a joint press conference on Tuesday, German chancellor Angela Merkel raised concerns over the Russian stance on gay people. Specifically, Merkel pointed to the alleged killing of more than 100 gay men by Chechen authorities, a story broken by the NY Times on April 1st. Chechnya authorities denied the reports, suggesting that the report was filled with “lies and disinformation.”

Merkel Calls for an Investigation.

Merkel has called for a thorough and full investigation by the Russian government into these allegations. As chancellor of Germany, Merkel has an interest in advancing human rights not just in her own country, but also globally.

At the press conference, Merkel also criticized Russia’s handling of a LGBT protest. Russian police, instead of allowing the protest, instead arrested those people who demonstrated against the LGBT persecution. In doing so, Merkel called for the protection of “Freedom Of Assembly,” which Russia was not interested in allowing.

Russia's Issues with Jehovah's Witnesses.

Angela Merkel further criticized Vladimir Putin’s failure to protect minority interests not just for LGBT people, but also for Jehovah’s witnesses, who were denounced as an extremist organization by the Russian Supreme Court. Russia’s ban on Jehovah’s witnesses immediately led to several hate crimes against the religious sect, which is now grouped into the same category as Nazis and Isis.

On the evening of the ruling, Russian citizens in Saint Petersburg blocked Jehovah’s witnesses from leaving the premises and threw rocks at the building in which they worshipped. The Russian government has made no official statement on any incidents involving Jehovah’s witnesses.

Future Decisions by the Russian Government for LGBT and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Merkel raised these concerns after a private meeting occurred between the two government leaders. She hopes that Russia will fully investigate allegations of abuse of LGBT people in Chechnya, that Russia will in the future respect the right of freedom of assembly, and that Russia protects the rights of the Jehovah’s witnesses who have been declared “extremists” by the Russian government.

Ultimately, the authority for such decisions rests with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Putin had no response for Merkel at the press conference, but his government’s actions in the next few months will act as his words.