GROZNY, Chechen Republic (CelebrityAccess) — A Russian singer, who is believed to be missing after attending a wedding in a conservative region of the Chechen Republic is feared to have been swept up in purported roundups of homosexuals in the country.
According to Newsweek, singer Zelimkhan Bakayev whereabouts have been a matter of concern since August. Radio Free Europe reported that Bakayev, a native of Moscow, attended his sister's wedding but has since dropped off the radar. His social media activity has stopped and an Instagram account in his name has been deactivated.
As well, he did not take part in a Russian version of the singing contest Star Academy called Fabrika Zvyozd on August 10th as scheduled.
While reports are unconfirmed, reports indicate that police or paramilitary groups in Chechnya were arresting gay men and subjecting them to brutal interrogations in what Human Rights Watch has described as a "purge."
Concern about Bakayev's well-being was compounded last week when Russian LGBT Rights activist Igor Kochetkov made a statement during a press conference where he cited testimony by several alleged victims of the purge who claim they were beaten into confessing intimate relations with Bakayev. Other witnesses recounted Bakayev's arrest on August 8th by members of Chechen Special Rapid Deployment (SOBR) security forces, according to Russia's Dozhd TV.
The Chechen regional government’s Minister for External Relations, Press and Connections, Dzhambulat Umarov, said in August that Bakayev had not been detained and said he would show up “after some time” Newsweek said.
Located in the Northern Caucasus, the Chechen Republic is a former Soviet republic. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the country was the focus of two wars as Russia sought to regain control over their former state. Following the recapture of the Chechen capital of Grozny in 2000, the nation has effectively been a Russian satellite, ruled since 2006 by the strongly pro-Putin Ramzan Kadyrov, who denied reports of a 'gay purge' in an interview with HBO's Bryant Gumbel.
“This is nonsense,” Kadyrov said when asked about the allegations of a purge. “We don't have those kinds of people here. We don't have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”
“Praise be to god,” He added. “Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”