It’s now been three months since pop singer Zelimkhan Bakaev went missing during Chechnya’s anti-gay crackdown.
Activists, friends and family are alarmed that there’s still been no sign of the 26-year-old, despite widespread media reports about his disappearance
The Chechen-born Bakaev had been living and working in Moscow. He was last seen in person on 8 August when he returned home to attend his sister’s wedding.
According to reports, a group of security officials were seen dragging him into a car in Grozny, the Chechen capital.
His mother filed a missing person’s report with Chechnya’s police, but they refused to open a criminal investigation. Then, on September 24, two suspicious videos were posted on YouTube, in which a disheveled looking Bakaev claimed that he was now in Germany.
Friends, however, say that he had lost weight and didn’t seem like himself. Items seen in the videos also look Chechen and not German. There are fears that he was forced to make the clips to cover up his detention.
Last month, Igor Kocketkov from the Russian LGBT Network told journalists at a press conference that the group had received confirmation from its sources that Bakaev was indeed “detained by Chechen authorities due to suspicion of homosexuality.”
The site NewNowNext went on to claim soon after that it was told by local activists that the singer had been tortured to death, although this has not been verified.
Chechnya’s Prosecutor’s Office has since reprimanded local law officials for failing to investigate Bakaev’s disappearance, but sill no news has been forthcoming. Read more via Mamba