Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed an inquiry into a reported crackdown on gay people in the republic of Chechnya, in the North Caucasus.
He said he would personally ask the prosecutor general and the interior minister to check the reports.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week urged the Russian authorities to help protect gay rights.
Chechen officials have denied gay people even exist in the republic, amid reports of arrests and torture.
Learn how to help at Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens.