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By Associated Press

BERLIN — Germany has begun granting gays from Chechnya special visas on humanitarian grounds following reports that gay people are being tortured and killed in the Russian republic.

The Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press on Thursday the first man arrived in Germany on Tuesday and four other applications for humanitarian visas are being reviewed.

Campaigners hold a protest concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Chechnya, outside the Russian Embassy in Central London on June 2, 2017. The protest is part of a worldwide day of protest to highlight the rights of LGBTQ people in the Chechnya region of Russia.Will Oliver / EPA

Gay activists and others have been alarmed by reports accusing police in Chechnya of detaining and torturing about 100 men suspected of being gay. The AP spoke with victims of the crackdown who supported the claims, though Chechen officials have denied the reports.

Germany provides visas on "urgent humanitarian grounds" for people who can demonstrate they're in serious danger.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin last month to help protect gay rights in Chechnya.

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