A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied reports that authorities in Chechnya are persecuting men suspected of being gay.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gaceta broke the story, reporting earlier this month that more than 100 people have been detained and three killed in the anti-gay campaign, including several well-known local television personalities and religious figures.

According to the AP, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday told journalist that he does “not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.”

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the newspaper's claims, saying through a spokesman that there were no gay men in Chechnya and if there were, their relatives “would send them somewhere from which there is no returning,” a reference to honor killings.

Several international organizations and the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights have called on Russia to investigate the reports of abuse.

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