A Russian newspaper reported this week that authorities in Chechnya have rounded up dozens of suspected gay men and killed three.

According to Novaya Gazeta, more than 100 people have been detained in the anti-gay campaign, including several well-known local television personalities and religious figures.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the newspaper's claims, saying that there were no gay men in Chechnya.

“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov told Interfax news agency.

“If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning,” he added, referring to honor killings.

Ekaterina Sokirianskaia of the human rights group International Crisis Group told The Guardian that she believes the detentions are happening.

“I have heard about it happening in Grozny, outside Grozny, and among people of very different ages and professions,” she said. “It's next to impossible to get information from the victims or their families, but the number of signals I'm receiving from different people makes it hard not to believe detentions and violence are indeed happening.”

Chechnya is a Muslim-majority republic of Russia that attempted to gain its independence from Moscow in the 1990s.