Chechnya's strongman leader has harshly denounced claims that the Russian republic has tortured and killed gay men, denying that there are even any homosexual men in his region.
Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has faced wide international criticism since a Russian newspaper reported this spring that his security forces had detained, tortured and sometimes killed gay men.
In an interview with HBO Real Sports cable television show, Kadyrov said that "this is nonsense" and that "we don't have those kinds of people here."
The interview was conducted June 30 and HBO released excerpts of the interview on Friday.
Kadyrov also says those making the allegations are "devils."
Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, was devastated by two wars between separatists and Russian forces in the past quarter-century.
Kadyrov, a former rebel who switched loyalties to Moscow, has been the dominant figure there since the 2004 assassination of his president father Akhmad Kadyrov.
Kadyrov's security forces have been widely accused of extensive human-rights abuses including abductions and killings.
A former officer of his security forces was convicted this year of the 2015 assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
He has strongly promoted Chechnya's Islamic culture, including opening what is claimed to be Europe's largest mosque, in the capital Grozny.
An avid boxer, he has promoted mixed martial arts and other fighting sports in the republic.