A popular Chechen singer long believed to have been killed as part of a “gay purge” in the Russian republic was tortured and executed on Ramzan Kadyrov’s orders after the strongman leader became “personally insulted” by his sexuality, according to a new report.
Zelimkhan Bakaev, 25, had been living in Moscow and gaining popularity outside the North Caucasus region when he vanished in August 2017 after returning home to attend his sister’s wedding. Human rights groups sounded the alarm over his disappearance, warning that he had likely been targeted as part of an anti-gay purge underway in the predominantly Muslim region.
But Chechen officials claimed he had fled to Europe, while Kadyrov, sometimes called “Putin’s soldier” for his flamboyant defense of the president, suggested Bakaev had been killed off by family members who were “ashamed” of his sexuality.
Now, the NC SOS Crisis Group, a human rights organization helping the LGBTIQ+ community in the North Caucasus, reports that Bakaev was tailed by Chechen security services tasked with determining whether or not he was gay. An unnamed source close to Kadyrov was quoted describing how the Chechen leader, upon learning of Bakaev’s sexuality, took it as a personal insult, since he and Bakaev had previously shaken hands and posed for a photo together. He responded by ordering his security forces to “deal with” the young singer, according to the report.
Bakaev was allegedly tortured before he was killed. His body was handed over to his family, who were told by authorities to “bury him like a dog,” according to NC SOS Crisis Group.
Bakaev’s disappearance and presumed murder sparked widespread international attention and calls for Russia to get to the bottom of what happened to him, and following mounting pressure, Chechen state television touted two clearly staged YouTube videos as proof that he was alive and well in Germany.
A few months later, in January 2018, Kadyrov publicly went on a bizarre rant in which he appeared to confirm Bakaev was dead and offered up a detailed description of his murder—while claiming it had been carried out by the singer’s own family.
“They told him ‘come over,’ and when he arrived, apparently his cousins or second cousins confronted him and said, ‘You’re gay.’ … They knew what their relative was doing. Isn’t there anyone in the village, any man in the family, who can admit: ‘We did this?’ They know full well who their relative was,” Kadyrov said, before going on to call Bakaev a “creature.”
Khussein Bakaev, Zelimkhan’s father, denied Kadyrov’s claims in comments to RFE/RL’s Russian Service, saying: “None of his relatives laid a finger on him, and there was no reason to lay a finger on him.”
Source: Yahoo News