Openly gay Russian singer Zelimkhan Bakaev was allegedly detained, tortured and murdered hours after arriving in the capital of Chechnya, Grozny.
The singer was seen last on August 8, at his sister’s wedding in Grozny, reports Huffington Post.
Bakaev’s mother reported him missing to police in the Chechen capital on August 17.
Prior to his disappearance, the singer was known to have been living in Moscow.
Reports from the time of the singer’s disappearance conflicted with the official stance of the Chechen Minister for National Policy, External Relations, Press, and Information, Dzhambulat Umarov.Umarov denied any Chechen involvement in the Bakaev’s disappearance.
Umarov denied any Chechen involvement in Bakaev’s disappearance.
“The guy is not a Wahhabi, not a terrorist, he isn’t involved in any cases. No structures took him, for a hundred years no-one will need him,” the Minister said, indicating that Bakaev would “reappear soon”.
Directly contradicting the Minister’s statement was an early report on Bakaev’s disappearance from an anonymous Russian human rights source:
“At first, a rumour was spread that he was alive and had left Chechnya. Then information spread that he was dead. It is not true. We know that Bakaev is alive and that he is still in Chechen detention.”
Now, however, reports indicate that the singer was tortured and executed within 13 hours of being unlawfully detained in Grozny this August.
A video of a man who looks like Bakaev surfaced on YouTube last month before being broadcast on Grozny TV, with the man displayed below declaring that he had moved to Germany.
“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 man in his twenties said.
The video’s authenticity has been the subject of debate amongst friends of Bakaev, with the staged nature of the video and speech patterns unlike Bakaev’s own leading some to believe that Bakaev is not the man shown in the video.
Contributing to the dubious nature of the video’s legitimacy is the fact that although the man explains that he is in Germany, the furniture in the room is made by Russian companies which ship furniture to Chechnya.
Huffington Post reports that there is a “low likelihood” that such furniture would appear elsewhere in Europe.
Bakaev’s disappearance is one incident in a growing list of reports which would indicate that Chechnya is contravening the human rights of LGBT+ people.
Lapunov, a gay Russian man living in Chechnya for two years, was reportedly detained and tortured for twelve days in Grozny before being released after his family reported him missing.
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