Moscow, January 25, Interfax - Members of the Russian delegation taking part in a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have rejected accusations that LGBT people are subject to harassment in Russia's internal republic of Chechnya.
"The situation where several republics of Russia's North Caucasus, including the Chechen Republic, are accused of harassment of LGBT people is extremely unpleasant and unclear to me. I want to assure you that there are no representatives of these sexual minorities in this republic. This is determined by the traditions of the Caucasus peoples," Chairman of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky said at the PACE session on Tuesday.
"Rather, the assembly should pay more attention to categories that actually face harassment, for instance so-called noncitizens in Estonia and Latvia. The term noncitizens is at odds with the norms and principles of international law," Slutsky said.
The Russian parliament also described the LGBT problem as "artificial".
"We have no obstacles in the overwhelming majority of member countries of the Council of Europe. On the contrary, in recent years this category of European citizens has possibly received more attention and freedom than ever before in history," he said.
First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Shamsail Saraliyev, in turn, has dismissed the conclusions of PACE's report on harassment of LGBT people in Chechnya as "trumped-up" and "artificial".
"After hostilities in 1990-2000, people went abroad to receive refugee status and all related privileges. But the war and hostilities in the republic ended. That's why, certain people, there are not many of them, have found a new loophole to get into Europe: they declare themselves as representatives of the LGBT community and claim that they are being persecuted and their rights are being infringed upon," Saraliyev said.
"There is information about one family who moved to Canada and agreed to openly say that they are LGBT people in exchange for a certain sum of money and permanent accommodation," he said.
PACE opened its winter session on Monday. The Russia delegation is attending it by video link.