German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a report about the detention and mistreatment of gays in Chechnya, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to protect the rights of minorities across the country.
The first report on this issue was published on 1 April, "Novaya Gazeta", which claimed that more than 100 people were detained or went missing in Chechnya on suspicion of homosexuality and that some of them were killed. A number of witnesses and victims gave CNN's horrific allegations of torture, saying that hundreds of gay men arrested by the authorities and kept in appalling conditions in at least three detention centres.
"We heard a very negative message about how to treat homosexuals in Chechnya, and I asked Putin to use his influence to ensure that the rights of such minorities", - said Merkel to reporters after a meeting with Putin in Sochi. Many believe that homosexuality in the Republic with a Muslim majority is shameful, and in Chechnya, widespread practice of so-called honor killings - the murder of family members to resolve shame.
Merkel also stressed the importance of civil rights for Putin, including the right to demonstrate and the right to the free functioning of NGOs. In recent years, Russia has adopted a series of laws that made it virtually impossible to protest and slowed down NGOs that oppose the Kremlin or receive funding from abroad.
The leaders have not spoken directly on sanctions at a press conference after their meeting, but both said they were committed to the Minsk agreements designed to put an end to the Ukrainian crisis, despite slow progress.
The two leaders also discussed the middle East - their governments are on opposing sides of the Syrian war. Putin is the most powerful ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Merkel openly called for the overthrow of Assad. Currently, Russia is negotiating a ceasefire with the warring factions in the war in Syria.
sections: Politics, Accidents