Tomorrow marks three months since the disappearance of Zelim Bakaev, a Chechen pop-singer. On August 8, at around 6 p.m., a group of security officials approached Bakaev in central Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, and dragged him into a car. There is little doubt he was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Chechnya, which local strongman Ramzan Kadyrov runs like his own fiefdom, is a place where people pay dearly for defying “traditional” norms. Igor Kochetkov, one of the leaders of the Russian LGBT Network, told me that when Chechen authorities tortured gay men during the anti-gay purge earlierthis year, some of the men said they had been questioned about Bakaev’s sexuality.
November 7 / Human Rights Watch