Gay Singer Missing After Entering Chechnya

Russian singer Zelimkhan Bakayev disappeared in Grozny, the capital of Russia’s autonomous republic Chechnya, Aug. 8. He remains missing.  

Zelimkhan Bakayev
– Zelimkhan Bakayev
Russian singer via Facebook

While various reports state Bakayev was arrested and detained upon his arrival in Grozny, Aug. 8, LGBT news site cites a source claiming he was murdered shortly after his detention.

“He arrived in Grozny and was picked up by police within three hours. Within ten hours he was murdered,” the source said. Chechnya’s authorities claim to be unaware of Bakayev’s whereabouts.

While a video that appeared on YouTube in September appears to show Bakayev in good health in Germany, doubts about the protagonist’s as well as the video’s authenticity have been raised.

Chechnya’s leadership around president Ramzan Kadyrov makes no secret of its disdain for gay people. It, however, denies the persecution of gay people by the state.

Reports of a “gay purge” in the country emerged in April. In October, the first alleged victim came forward. Maxim Lapunov told press on Oct. 17 that he was arrested by plainclothes officers on March 16 and beaten constantly over the course of 12 days. “The only charge they made was that I was gay,” he told reporters.

At the same conference, Igor Kocketkov of the Russian LGBT-Network said that since April, 79 people had contacted his organization in connection with the alleged anti-gay campaign in Chechnya, 27 of which were purportedly kidnapped and tortured.

Russia’s human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said the issue was being investigated. When allegations against Chechnya first emerged in April, Moskalkova doubted their credibility.