Activists Mark Anniversary of Chechen Pop Star’s Disappearance With Global Protests

Zelim Bakaev was last seen on August 8, 2017.

Chechen pop star Zelim Bakaev was last seen on August 8, 2017 in Grozny, Chechnya en route to his sister’s wedding. One year later, despite multiple requests, the Russian Investigative Committee has not launched a formal inquiry. On Wednesday (August 8), activist groups around the world staged demonstrations to demand one.

In New York, Voices4 and RUSA LGBT staged a demonstration at the Stonewall National Landmark Park. Organizations in Omaha, Chicago, and in the Netherlands also held rallies calling for an independent investigation into Bakaev’s whereabouts.

Reports first began surfacing in April of 2017 that authorities in Chechnya were detaining, torturing, and even murdering gay men. Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov repeatedly denied these reports, claiming that there are no gay men living in the predominantly Muslim Russian republic.

Bakaev’s family are unable to get answers about his fate. Human rights experts told NewNowNext they believe Bakaev was killed by authorities, perhaps accidentally as a result of torture.

“He arrived in Grozny and was picked up by police within three hours,” the source claims. “Within ten hours, he was murdered.”

“It has been over a year since reports of these human rights violations were first reported and corroborated, and both the U.S. government and the international community have failed to take any measurable action,” the activist groups wrote in a statement provided to NewNowNext. “There has only been one official investigation, a purportedly thorough report completed by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). The Russian government has the sole authority to release this report, but they have refused to do so.”

LGBT World Beside conceived the idea for Wednesday’s demonstrations. The newly formed group is comprised of Chechen asylum seekers living in the Netherlands.

“A primary goal of the action at Stonewall is to amplify the voices of the asylum seekers in the Netherlands and their group’s demands,” the groups said.

“LGBT World Beside’s demands include conducting an impartial and effective investigation into the abduction of Zelim Bakaev and to ensure the absence of impunity for the perpetrators, providing legal and physical protection of victims, their families and witnesses of the abduction of Zelim Bakayev, implementing the recommendations of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, and allowing an international independent investigation.”

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.