A popular Russian singer who has been missing since August is feared to have been detained by authorities in Chechnya as a victim of the country’s ‘gay purge’.
26-year-old Zelimkhan Bakayev was last seen on August 8 in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, and Russian LGBT activists are growing increasingly concerned that he has been detained by authorities.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday (October 16), Russian LGBT Network founder Igor Kocketkov touched upon Bakayev’s disappearance.
He said: “At the end of August, we received confirmation of our earlier presumption that Bakayev was detained by Chechen authorities due to suspicion of homosexuality.”
According to NewNowNext, Bakayev’s family have been unable to get answers from the authorities about him since his disappearance.
Bizarrely, Bakaev’s Instagram account has also since been deleted, despite there being no word from the singer himself.
As questions surrounding Bakayev’s whereabouts mounted, a senior official said that Bakayev was “safe” and would “appear soon”.
A month later, government controlled media in Chechnya claimed the singer had left the country and was found in Germany after two YouTube videos showed a man resembling Bakayev talking about how much he was enjoying Germany.
However, many have claimed the video wasn’t filmed in Germany as the room Bakayev was in featured Russian furniture, according to RFERL.
Earlier this week, Maxim Lapunov became the first victim of Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’ to come forward publicly with claims of abuse at the hands of authorities.
Igor Kocketkov claimed in Monday’s press conference that other individuals in Chechnya’s entertainment industry were subjected to “torture” as the authorities attempted to gain information on Bakayev.