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Chechen singer disappears in Grozny

16 August 2017
Zelimkhan Bakayev with Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov (vk.com)

Zelimkhan Bakayev, a famous Chechen singer, has been missing since 8 August, when he disappeared from Grozny.

OC Media learnt that Bakayev arrived in Grozny from Moscow for the wedding of his sister.

‘We are collecting information literally piece by piece. On 8 August, he left the house on business. In the evening he was planning to visit an advertising company to meet with some friends, but he never arrived. This happened between 17:00–18:00. After this, his phone was off. His parents had organised the wedding of his sister for 9 August, but the wedding went on without him’, Alisa, a close friend of Zelimkhan, told OC Media.

According to Bakayev’s friends, he moved from Chechnya to Moscow about two years ago to develop his career as a singer. He was planning to go back to the capital in the evening of 9 August, after the wedding.

‘We know for sure that he was planning to come back to Moscow and develop his career. He was planning to participate in several TV projects, he even applied to participate in one show. It was his dream’, Diana, another friend, told OC Media.

Several days after Bakayev went missing, some of his close relatives received a message through WhatsApp from his number saying ‘I am in Moscow. I am fine, don’t worry. I am going abroad’. His friends say that the message came shortly after relatives began asking questions to find him.

‘It’s also interesting that this was a text message. [Zelimkhan] almost always uses voice messages in WhatsApp. We know for sure that he never planned to leave Russia. This is why we can’t believe that he could leave. We would know about it’, Diana says.

On 15 August, and Instagram profile under the name Zelimkhan Bakayev posted a photo of Bakayev. The same account first became active on 12 July, posting a photo of Bakayev with the caption ‘friends, unfortunately my profile was hacked. It is in the process of being restored right now. As an emergency, so you don’t lose contact with me, I decided to make another profile’.

A number of Zelimkhan’s friends are sure that the profile is not Zelimkhan’s, and say they do not know who could be behind it.

Close relatives of Bakayev have refused to speak to the media.

‘Sorry, we cannot comment, we may have some problems’, one family member told OC Media.

When contacted, Chechnya’s Interior Ministry claimed that it was the first they had heard about Bakayev’s disappearance, and asked to call back later. After this, they did not answer our calls.

Zelimkhan Bakayev was born in Grozny in 1991. He began his career as a singer 10 years ago and has performed in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Daghestan.