Zelimkhan Bakayev: A prominent singer who went missing when visiting family for sisters wedding back in August has been reported murdered after being picked up by Chechen security forces in Grozny in the Current ‘Gay Purge’ sweeping through Chechnya.
A prominent gay-rights watchdog has alleged that a singer from Chechnya who disappeared was detained by the authorities in connection with a campaign targeting gay men in the southern Russian region.
The assertion by Igor Kochetkov, founder the Russian LGBT Network, at an October 16 news conference in Moscow was the first time that activists have publicly linked singer Zelimkhan Bakayev’s disappearance to the alleged campaign of detentions and torture of dozens of men in Chechnya this year.
Bakayev, whose family says he was last seen on August 8 in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, appears to have been swept up in a fresh wave of a crackdown in the region on gay men and those suspected of being gay, Kochetkov said.
Reports of the roundups have alarmed Western officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and French President Emmanuel Macron, who raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year. Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has called the reports “lies.”
“At the end of August, we received confirmation of our earlier presumption that Bakayev was detained by Chechen authorities due to suspicion of homosexuality,” Kochetkov told the news conference.
The announcement to journalists was timed to coincide with the release of a new report by the respected independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta on alleged abuses against gay men by Chechen authorities.
In April, Novaya Gazeta became the first media outlet to publish reports of an anti-gay campaign in Chechnya. Gay men from the region have since given accounts to RFE/RL and other media of their escape from the abuse they faced in the region in the North Caucasus.