Source claims Russian singer Zelimkhan Bakayev murdered by authorities
Russian singer Zelimkhan Bakayev, 26, who has been missing since August 8, is believed to have become one of the latest victims of Chechnya’s anti-gay purge.
A source close to activists in Chechnya told NewNowNext that Bakaev was tortured to death:
“He arrived in Grozny and was picked up by police within three hours.
“Within ten hours he was murdered.”
Authorities have suggested he left the country, denying any further knowledge. Bakayev’s family have not heard from him since August, after he’d travelled to the region to attend his sister’s wedding.
Two YouTube videos, posted since August by a user with the Russian-language handle Artyom Lebedev, claim to show Zelimkhan Bakayev “enjoying life” in Germany.
However, the videos – posted by state-controlled Grozny-TV – have been questioned on their legitmacy after the organisation RFERL found products and furnishings featured in the video, including a branded energy drink, were Russian-made and not available in Germany.
The news comes just days after the first man, Maxim Lapunov, came forward to speak publicly about his experiences in Chechnya. Lapunov, who said he’d been held in a “blood-soaked cell” and “beaten with sticks” told AFP:
“Gradually, gay people began to disappear. It was systematic… If it becomes known, you are in danger, and so are those close to you. People are killed over rumours there.”
The abuses were first brought to international attention by Russian investigative newspaper, Novaya Gazeta who, on 1 April 2017, reported that: “hundreds of men believed to be gay have been abducted in recent days, as part of a coordinated campaign”.
The men were reportedly “tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals known to them”, according to an “urgent action” report by Amnesty International.