The U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights' office has condemned reports of the abuse and killings of gay men in Russia's southern republic of Chechnya.

The respected Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported earlier this month that police in the predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya have rounded up more than 100 men suspected of homosexuality and that at least three of them have been killed. Chechen authorities have denied these reports.

The Geneva-based office in a statement Thursday called upon the Russian government "to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual ... who are living in a climate of fear fueled by homophobic speeches by local authorities."