The Kremlin came to the defense of Chechnya's leader on Monday, saying controversial comments the republic's leader recently made about gay men had been “taken out of context,” the TASS news agency reported.
In excerpts of an interview with U.S. television network HBO, Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, called for the removal of gay people "to purify the [nation’s] blood."
Kadyrov was responding to reports that security forces in the restive republic had detained, tortured, and even killed gay men.
"As for Kadyrov’s interview, frankly speaking, very often, his words are taken out of context,” Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.
Peskov added that if the comments were considered in the correct context, "nothing out of the ordinary was said there.”
In April, Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on secret prisons in Chechnya where gay men were allegedly detained and tortured.
Last week, the newspaper published the names of 27 detainees it believes were murdered by Chechen security forces.