The nightmare in Chechnya rages on…

LGBTQ activists in Russia say two people have died and dozens more have been detained in what the Associated Press calls a “gay purge” in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Related: New evidence reveals Russia targeted LGBTQ Americans on Facebook

According to the Russian LGBT Network, around 40 men and women have been held in detention since December on suspicion of being gay. Two of the detainees have died of torture, the group says.

“Widespread detentions, torture and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya,” Russian LGBT Network program director Igor Kochetkov says. “Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped. It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, tells the Interfax news agency that no one in Chechnya has been detained for being gay and that the reports to the contrary are “complete lies and don’t have an ounce of truth in them.”

Related: Gay men come forward with new accounts of being tortured in Chechnya concentration camps

The news comes nearly a year after Russian-language opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that three people were killed and more than 100 were detained for being gay.

The Russian LGBT Network — which noted in a recent report that “similar cases of unlawful arrests and detentions had begun in the late 2000s” — has so far evacuated 150 people out of Chechnya, an area in southwestern Russia with around 1.4 million residents.

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