A well-known Chechen singer who has been missing since August 8, is believed to be among the victims of Chechnya’s renewed anti-gay purge campaign targeting gay men in the entertainment industry.
At a press conference on Monday, Russian LGBT Network founder Igor Kochetkov told reporters: “At the end of August, we received confirmation of our earlier presumption that Bakayev was detained by Chechen authorities due to suspicion of homosexuality.”
— Human Rights First (@humanrights1st) August 31, 2017
According to Crime Russia, Bakaev disappeared in Grozny, the capital city of the Chechen Republic, during a visit to the wedding of his sister from Moscow, where he has recently lived.
Two friends of Bakaev on condition of anonymity told Dozhd TV Channel that on August 8, Bakaev had been detained in the center of Grozny by people in military uniform, allegedly by Special Rapid Deployment fighters of Terek. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for Grozny did not confirm this information, saying that there had been no statements about a person with such a name going missing.
One of the sources of Dozhd also clarified that a few days ago Bakaev had written to his mother and aunt through WhatsApp that he was alive and well and planned to go abroad. However, immediately after that he left the messenger and turned off the phone. The friend of the singer doubts that Bakaev wrote the message himself, since the singer was not going abroad, building a musical career in Moscow, and technically could not fly out because of loans.
Meanwhile, on August 15, in one of the accounts of the singer in Instagram, a post appeared with hashtags: #zelimbakaev and #sushi, however, according to his friend, the page does not belong to Zelimkhan, his real account was closed immediately after the detention, and the photo posted in the social network was made in Grozny restaurant Fish House a year ago and not in summer, as in the picture the singer has a leather jacket.
— Zelim Bakaev (@ZelimBakaev) December 16, 2015
During Monday’s press conference, a victim of the anti-gay purge in Chechnya gave details about his horrifying experience.
Maxim Lapunov, 30, recounted being arrested, locked in a blood-soaked cellar, and beaten repeatedly after named by other victims.
Lapunov says he is still haunted by the screams of other prisoners.
President Ramzan Kadyrov claims “there are no gays in Chechnya,” but in July, he told Vice, “If there are any gays… take them away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any, take them.”
In a televised interview, Kadyrov called gays “devils” who “are not people.”
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