Chicago, IL —
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday condemned reports of police in Chechnya torturing and killing men suspected of being gay or bisexual.
"I am disgusted and appalled by reports from both the Russian media and non-governmental organizations that authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up, tortured, and even murdered individuals who are believed to be gay," Biden said in a statement.
"Every man or woman on this earth is entitled to be treated with dignity – to live without fear and to love freely. Unfortunately, the human rights abuses perpetrated by Chechen authorities and the culture of impunity that surrounds them means that these hate crimes are unlikely to ever be properly investigated or that the perpetrators will see justice. But that does not mean that we should fail to defend basic human rights, fundamental freedoms, and universal values," he added.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gaceta
broke the story, reporting earlier this month 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.
According to NBC News, the paper's website was attacked on Thursday and the newspaper reported that it had been threatened by Chechen leaders.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the reports, saying that he does "not have any reliable information about any problems" in Chechnya, a Muslim-majority republic of Russia.
(Related: Vladimir Putin says he does not have "reliable information" on Chechnya gay persecution
Biden called on the Trump administration to address the growing crisis.
"I hope that the current administration lives up to the promises it has made to advance human rights for everyone by raising this issue directly with Russia's leaders. The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights," Biden said.