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Pop star Zelim Bakaev still missing in Chechnya’s anti-gay purge

Pop star Zelim Bakaev still missing in Chechnya’s anti-gay purge

German authorities must confirm if missing Chechen singer Zelim Bakaev is in their country, according to a Russian-based human rights advocate.

It has been three months since the singer went missing in the Chechen capital Grozny. Many fear he was detained by Chechen authorities as part of their anti-gay purge.

Donate: Our Chechnya Crisis Appeal is raising funds to support the Russian LGBT Network help evacuate LGBTI people

After he went missing a couple of videos of Bakaev allegedly in Germany surfaced online. But those close to him have questioned their credibility.

Friends of Bakaev told Human Rights Watch’s Vladislav Lobanov that the singer ‘doesn’t look like himself’ in the videos.

‘For a man who takes meticulous care of his appearance, he is ruffled, with a sloppy haircut, and seems to have lost a lot of weight,’ Lobanov wrote in a statement.

‘The furniture and other items in the apartment on the video also appear reminiscent of Chechnya, not Germany.

‘Bakaev’s friends are convinced he was forced to record the videos by his captors, so that the authorities can deny his disappearance.’

It is believed Chechen authorities also interrogated other men detained in the anti-gay purge about Bakaev’s sexuality, according to statements gathered by the Russian LGBT Network.

Lobanov argued authorities in Moscow should push Chechnya to properly investigate Bakaev’s disappearance.

‘Moscow should go beyond window dressing, and properly answer questions about Bakaev’s fate and whereabouts,’ he wrote.

He also said Germany could help the situation by confirming if Bakaev is in fact, in that country.

‘Germany could also help by publicly affirming that if Bakaev is in Germany, that he can safely seek asylum there, and will receive protection from German authorities to contact his family and speak publicly if he wishes,’ Lobanov wrote.

Zelim Bakaev

Bakaev is a 25-year-old Chechen singer who moved to Moscow to pursue his dream of becoming a pop star.

He returned to Chechnya on August 6 to attend his sister’s wedding, but he was detained on August 8 by men in military uniforms in Grozny.

Bakaev’s mother reported him missing to Chechnya’s police, but they found ‘no grounds’ for opening a criminal investigation. She also wrote to President Ramzan Kadyrov asking for help, but nothing came of it.