Lithuanian authorities have granted asylum to two gay Russian men fleeing persecution in Chechnya, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
The violent and systematic persecution of the LGBT community in the Russian republic of Chechnya has received global attention since the existence of Chechen LGBT concentration camps was exposed in early April by Russian paper, Novaya Gazeta.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevičius, said that the two gay men came to Lithuania in order to escape harassment in Russia. Linkevičius told media that his government “issued visas to two people from Chechnya who were persecuted because of their sexual orientation”.
“We have consistently raised these issues both within the EU and in the parliamentary structures of the Council of Europe – regarding the possibility of helping and, if necessary, granting asylum,” said Linkevičius. Lithuania is among the first EU nations to accept gay asylum seekers from Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed an investigation into the persecution of LGBT communities in the southern Russian republic, but characterized the reports as “rumours, you could say, about what is happening in our North Caucasus with people of non-traditional orientation”.