Chechnya's anti-gay leader has denied involvement in the disappearance of Russian pop singer Zelimkhan Bakaev.
The singer was feared to be a victim of Chechnya's anti-gay purge after he went missing in August 2017 while visiting the country for his sister's wedding.
While Chechen officials kept quiet about the disappearance, Ramzan Kadyrov has now claimed that the singer was 'dealt with' by family members.
In a speech to an audience of uniformed secutiry men that aired on state television channel Grozny TV, Kadyrov denied involvement and claimed the singer's parents were blaming him for the disappearance.
He said: "His relatives, who didn't keep an eye on him and were ashamed that he was one of them, now say that Kadyrov took him."
The Chechen leader then said there was no "evidence" of state involvement.
"His family couldn't stop him, and then called him back home, and his brothers, it seems, accused him of being one of those," Kadyrov said. "Isn't there anyone in the village, any man in the family, who can admit: 'We did this?' They know full well who their relative was."
Meanwhile, the singer's father Khussein Bakayev told RFERL that his family had nothing to with his disappearance and there was "no reason to lay a finger on him."
After the pop star's disappearance, the singer was reported to have been tortured to death in Chechnya under the anti-gay purge. However, government-controlled media in the country claimed he had left for Germany.
Soon after, two YouTube videos featuring a man resembling Bakaev surfaced in which the man spoke about how much he was enjoying life, but followers of the star insisted that it wasn't actually him.