On August 8, Bakaev (pictured above) was dragged into a car by a group of security officials in the Chechen capital of Grozny. It has been reported by Russian LGBT Rights Activists that during the anti-gay purge in Chechnya earlier this year, some of the men who were arrested and tortured were questioned about Bakaev’s sexuality.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW): “There is little doubt he was targeted because of his sexual orientation.”
Bakaev, who had been living in Moscow since 2012 and enjoying popular success both there and in Chechnya, had returned home for his sister’s wedding. Since his disappearance his mother filed a report with Chechnya’s police, but they found “no grounds” for opening a criminal investigation. She also wrote to Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, begging him to help find her son.
A celebrity in Chechnya, Bakaev was once photographed with Kadyrov, who has repeatedly denied reports of the gay purge, based on his claim that there are no gay people in Chechnya. He told one interviewer that if there were any gay people in the region, they should be removed “to cleanse our blood”.
On September 24, two videos of Bakaev appeared on YouTube with the singer saying he is now in Germany.
According to HRW: “Bakaev’s friends told us that he, “doesn’t look like himself,” in those videos: for a man who takes meticulous care of his appearance, he is ruffled, with a sloppy haircut, and seems to have lost a lot of weight.”
Bakaev’s friends believe he was forced to record the videos by his captors, so that the Chechen authorities can deny his disappearance.
“Moscow should go beyond window dressing, and properly answer questions about Bakaev’s fate and whereabouts,” says HRW. “Germany could also help by publicly affirming that if Bakaev is in Germany, that he can safely seek asylum there, and will receive protection from German authorities to contact his family and speak publicly if he wishes.”
Early sources reported that Bakaev was tortured and murdered within ten hours of his arrest.
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