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Police keep young woman who fled family due to domestic violence under custody, defender says she may be forcibly returned to relatives

The police are keeping Leyla Gireeva of Ingushetia, 18, under custody in Saint Petersburg. Gireeva recently left her family home due to domestic violence, as per NC SOS, Rotonda, and Marem, a human rights group.

Gireeva left her family home for Saint Petersburg on 14 November. She found out several days ago that she was wanted, declared charges unknown.

Today, her relatives found the apartment she has been hiding in. Gireeva recorded several videos, sharing the details of violence used by her relatives, including her father. She also noted that she had left home voluntarily, being a full-grown person in legal terms.

“Please do not extradite me to my relatives. They’ll start stuffing five antidepressant pills into me each day to cure me of atheism as they did before. They will hit me with a stick. I don’t want to return to this hell, I will kill myself if I return,” Gireeva said in one of the videos.

The videos were published by Marem, a human rights group Gireeva contacted after leaving home.

Gireeva says that her father is a former security officer, and her uncle is an active police major. Today, when Gireeva’s relatives attempted to break into her apartment, the young woman called the police. She was taken to a police station together with her family where it turned out that she was wanted for theft, said Svetlana Anokhina, the founder of Marem. Gireeva is still inside the police station.

NC SOS says the police are holding the girl under custody “until the circumstances are clarified” and are awaiting the arrival of security forces from Ingushetia. Gireeva’s lawyer Alexander Peredruk who has now also arrived at the police station, told Rotonda that they want to send the young woman home.

Vladislav Khorev, an activist, also arrived at the police station, but was detained by the police. Khorev was taken to the Center for Combating Extremism in St. Petersburg, he is currently out of touch.

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‘We are not sorry, even if they kill us’

Special correspondent Irina Kravtsova tells the story of four cousins from Dagestan, abused in their households, who managed to escape from Russia

On 29 October, a group of four young women who happen to be cousins ran away from home and spent several months hiding. Upon their attempt to enter Georgia, Russian border guards had detained the young women and had kept them at the border checkpoint under false pretences until their relatives, who threatened the girls with murder, arrived. Ten hours later, thanks to the public exposure of their story and the help of human rights defenders, the young women managed to leave Russia at last.

The four used to suffer physical violence in the family; their relatives demanded “religious obedience” from them. The four also suffered female genital mutilation in childhood. They were considering a runaway for a long time and made their minds when one of the sisters found out she could be married off to her own cousin. The sisters waited until the youngest of the group turned 18 and, with the help of NC SOS, escaped Dagestan on 7 August.

Later, the Muftiat of Dagestan published a statement by the chairman of the Kaspiysk imam council, which said that the escape of the girls was due to the influence of social networks. “Because of those phones, fathers lose their sons and mothers lose their daughters. We cannot keep track of our children, the growing youth, we do not understand what they do in those gadgets,” he said. The imam believes that the girls were “recruited on the Internet” and got inspired by the idea that they were “much higher than what they really are” and that they “should be free.”

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