Popular singer who’s gone missing is believed to be victim of Chechnya’s anti-gay purge

There are very real fears that Zelimkhan Bakaev has been detained by authorities in Chechnya as part of their ongoing crackdown on LGBT+ people.

The popular Russian singer was last seen in the Chechn capital of Grozny on 8 August, and his family have said that they have been unable to contact him since.

It has led activists to believe that the famous star was picked up by authorities and sent to an anti-gay camp.

“At the end of August, we received confirmation of our earlier presumption that Bakaev was detained by Chechen authorities due to suspicion of homosexuality,” Russian LGBT Network founder Igor Kochetkov said in a press conference on Monday.

Human Rights First also tweeted back in August their concern that Bakayev had been detained by Grozny security forces.

Kochetkov went on to allege that the 26-year-old singer has been caught up in a new series of detentions in Chechnya, as they begin to persecute LGBT+ people again.

He added that this new wave is targeted specifically at gay men in the entertainment industry.

Of course, Chechen officials have denied any involvement of the disappearance of Bakaev, and have suggested that he has simply just left the country.

Meanwhile, Crime Russia reported last month that Bakayev was found in Germany after he posted a YouTube video telling his fans that he has left the country.

“There is absolutely nothing to do in Grozny or Moscow. Because there are a lot of assholes. Here people are absolutely different – you go out, everyone smiles at you. Absolutely different outlook,” the guy who resembles Bakaev says in the video.

However, there was no indication that the video was actually recorded in Germany, and people have pointed out that the room he’s in is furnished with Russian furniture and that there’s a Russian energy drink on the table that isn’t sold in Germany.

Alexxx Malev via Flickr

Earlier this week, a victim of Chechnya’s anti-gay purge, Maxim Lapunov, described being beaten by police in a blood-soaked cell, where he was detained for 12 days on suspicion of being gay.

The Kremlin and Chechen government have both repeatedly denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured.

That’s despite Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, having publicly declared that he wanted all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26, which marked the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.

Following increased international pressure, Russia was forced to investigate Chechnya and this reported ongoing abuse, but as of yet the republic has received no consequences for the treatment of its LGBT+ citizens.

Last month, it was reported that Canada have given asylum to 22 gay refugees in Chechnya over the past three months, helping them to escape the anti-gay purge that took place in the Russian republic.

Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands have also granted asylum to Chechen people on humanitarian grounds.

Related: Hundreds march in protest of Chechnya’s treatment of LGBT+ people



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