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Russian human rights activists have launched an online campaign to support the search for Chechen singer Zelimkhan Bakaev, who disappeared in the Chechen capital Grozny on 8 August.
A social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBakaevBack was launched on 31 August and has already gained support, with messages from people from the US, Austria, France, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
‘With the help of the Internet we will bring the attention of the international community to this case. We have received information suggesting that Bakaev is being held by Chechen security forces. There has been no specific information about him for more than three weeks. The police are doing nothing. [Chechen Head] Ramzan Kadyrov is able to find Dagestani children in Syria of all places, while his own [people] are disappearing in a small republic, and nobody is looking for them’, a source in a major Russian rights group working in Chechnya told OC Media.
On 17 August, Dzhambulat Umarov, Chechnya’s Minister for National Policy, External Relations, Print and Information called media reports about his abduction ‘stupid.’
‘No agencies have taken him, nobody needs him for a dime’, he added.
Zelimkhan Bakaev disappeared on 8 August in Grozny, where he had traveled from Moscow for the wedding of his sister. Bakaev’s relatives at first refused to talk to the media, ‘we can’t comment, we’ll have problems’, said one when questioned by OC Media.
Later, however, they retracted previous statements and denied that they were receiving any pressure. ‘Some in the media write as if we are being pressured. With a 100% confidence I can say that no one is pressuring us at all’, on relative told OC Media.
Zelimkhan Bakaev was born in Grozny in 1991. He started his singing career about ten years prior to his disappearance, performing in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan.