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Chechen singer Zelimkhan Bakayev murdered by security forces as his homosexuality “offended” Ramzan Kadyrov, reports NC SOS crisis group

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Chechen-born singer Zelimkhan Bakayev, popular in Russia, who disappeared without a trace in 2017 when he flew from Moscow to Grozny to attend his sister's wedding, was killed by Chechen security forces, according to a report by the NC SOS (North Caucasus SOS) crisis group.

Chechen authorities had denied any involvement in Bakayev's disappearance, despite human rights activists linking it to a broader “hunt for homosexuals” in the region. A video surfaced online showing Bakayev claiming he had left Russia for Germany, but journalists later proved it was staged and recorded in Russia. Eyewitnesses reported that Bakayev was kidnapped by individuals wearing military uniforms.

According to NC SOS, Bakayev was killed by Chechen security forces. His body was handed over to his family, who was ordered to “bury him like a dog,” the group reported. Earlier, independent media outlet Novaya Gazeta also reported that Bakayev had been killed, citing sources with knowledge of the singer’s death.

Bakayev was under surveillance due to suspicions about his sexuality, the source told NC SOS. Once his homosexuality was confirmed, the news reached Ramzan Kadyrov, who had a personal acquaintance with Zelimkhan and even posed for photos and shook hands with him. According to the same source, the head of the republic took offense at Bakayev's sexual orientation, and instructed security forces to “deal with him.” Bakayev endured prolonged torture before his murder.

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