After initially denying reports that gay men are being persecuted in Chechnya, President Ramzan Kadyrov has reportedly vowed to eliminate gay men from the region by the start of Ramadan, May 26.

Reports of police in Chechnya, a Muslim-majority republic of Russia, torturing and killing men suspected of being gay or bisexual started appearing earlier this month.

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

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.

But reports continue to surface, including a The New York Times story which includes first-hand accounts of beatings of gay men at the hands of authorities.

“Gays in Chechnya and the North Caucasus are in lethal danger,” Igor Kochetkov, director of the Russian LGBT Network, told the Times. “People whose partners are detained have every reason to believe they will be arrested. It is very hard not to name the names under torture.”

On Friday, UK-based PinkNews reported on a British politician's comments to Parliament.

“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” Sir Alan Duncan, an openly gay Conservative MP, said in a speech to Parliament on Wednesday. “He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts to the LGBT community. Sources have said that he wants the community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”

PinkNews said that Britain's Foreign Office had confirmed that Kadyrov made the comments in local media.