Criminal case opened into fate of Chechen woman feared murdered by her relatives

Seda Suleymanova. Photo: Yelena Patyaeva

Seda Suleymanova. Photo: Yelena Patyaeva

The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation into the fate of a Chechen woman whose disappearance since her abduction in St. Petersburg last year has sparked concern that she may have been the victim of a so-called “honour killing”.

Several people who contacted the Investigative Committee to request they look into Seda Suleymanova’s disappearance received an official response saying a criminal case had been opened, human rights group NC SOS said on Wednesday. However, no other information regarding Suleymanova’s case was provided.

Suleymanova, 26, fled her family home in Chechnya in 2022 fearing for her life after she refused to enter into an arranged marriage. A year later, she was arrested on theft charges by plainclothes police officers in St. Petersburg, where she lived with her partner Stanislav Kudryavtsev, and was forcibly returned to Chechnya. Her partner and friends have had no contact with Suleymanova since then.

Chechen human rights commissioner Mansur Soltayev, an appointee of Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov, posted a photograph of Suleymanova, dressed in traditional clothes and appearing to have a bruise on her neck, in late August, adding that she was safe and “feeling fine”.

NC SOS voiced concern in February that Seda might have been murdered by her relatives. The group and its supporters have repeatedly called on the Russian authorities to investigate her disappearance and alleged murder, while her friend Yelena Patyaeva picketed outside the St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office on 31 January demanding to know if Suleymanova was alive.

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