Yesterday, President Trump met with top-ranking Russian officials, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, to discuss a number of issues shared between both nations. These include the Islamic State, Syria, and Ukraine. This meeting took place amidst Trump’s firing FBI Director James Comey and the sustained investigation into the administration’s ties with Russia. However, one glaring humans rights issue was omitted from Trump’s conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak: the brutal treatment of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya.

The situation in Chechnya

In April, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported the detainment and torture of Gay Men in Chechnya.

Located in southern Russia’s Caucasus region, Chechnya is bounded by Russia and shares its southern border with Georgia. Chechnya is a majority-Muslim region administered by Ramzan Kadyrov, an authoritarian leader who enjoys support from Putin’s administration. Chechnya is known for its conservative and homophobic atmosphere.

Reports indicate that 100 men have been detained and three killed. However, Chechen officials deny such accusations and have even said that gay people do not exist in the region. Alvi Karimov, an official government spokesperson, said, “You can't detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic.”

Russian LGBTQ activist Natalia Poplevskaya said, “Torture is going on with electric shocks, beatings with cables,” before adding that, “All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay.”

Lack of Russian intervention

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would facilitate a probe after meeting with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel.

She urged him “to use his influence to guarantee the rights of minorities.” Merkel’s comments allude to the situation in Chechnya as well as Russia labeling the Jehovah’s Witnesses a terrorist group (along with ISIS and the Nazis).

However, Putin’s commitment to investigation rings hollow as five LGBTQ activists were detained in Moscow after trying to deliver a petition to the prosecutor general.

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The activists claim that more than 2 million people have asked Putin to ascertain the situation in Chechnya. The petition demanded an “an unbiased investigation of illegal detentions of hundreds of people in Chechnya because of their homosexuality.”

Despite calls from the international community, Russia has doddled in its investigation. And with Russia’s poor history with LGBTQ rights, it’s unlikely that Putin will undertake swift action.