Zelimkhan Bakaev was "reportedly arrested as part of Chechnya’s anti-gay crackdown" and "murdered shortly after being detained," according to a source who talked to NewNowNext. I keep googling his name to see if there have been any updates since that story last week, or any more sources coming forward to confirm this horrifying news, but there haven't been.
A source close to activists in the region now tells NewNowNext Bakaev, 26, was tortured to death. “He arrived in Grozny and was picked up by police within three hours,” they claimed. “Within ten hours he was murdered.”
Chechnya has said that gay people do not exist. When reports began surfacing last spring that Chechnya had set up concentration camps for gay people, a state official called the reports "absolute lies and disinformation," explaining: "You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic."
There is a chilling picture here of Bakaev posing with Chechnya's President Ramzan Kadyrov. An official in Kadyrov's regime said about gay people recently: "In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society."
As Huffington Post has reported: "Chechnya is a hotbed of Islamic honor killings, usually of young women, but of gay men as well. When gay Chechens who’ve somehow remained alive get out of jail, they are often taken by their male relatives to remote places to be killed and buried."
But if Bakaev was killed, it was by authorities, not by his family, who've been trying to find him. According to his family: "Zelimkhan went out on August 8 on business and never returned. The police, which the relatives turned to, could report nothing about him." His manager said the Chechen singer was not allowed to perform and had "panic attacks" about being in Chechnya.
According to NewNowNext:
Last month, a YouTube video of a man resembling Bakayev was picked up by government-controlled media in Chechnya. In it, the man claimed to be the singer and said he was in Germany...
Activists say it’s a fraud, though, pointing out that a Russian energy drink and furniture seen in the video are not available in Germany.