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Chechen domestic abuse victim ‘abducted and sent to Grozny’

24 August 2023
Seda Suleymanova. Image via NC SOS Crisis Group.

A Chechen woman who fled Chechnya for fear of her life was reportedly abducted from her Saint Petersburg home and detained in Grozny on theft charges. Civil rights activists warn that she might be murdered in her home republic.

NC SOS Crisis Group, a North Caucasian queer rights organisation, reported that Seda Suleymanova and her partner, Stanislav Kudryavtsev, were taken from their apartment in Saint Petersburg by a group of men on 23 August.

They claim that two of the men introduced themselves as police officers, while the other two were ‘Chechens in civilian clothes’.

The couple were then held at a police station where Kudryavtsev was released shortly thereafter, while Suleymanova was detained on suspicion of stealing ₽150,000 ($1,600) worth of jewellery.

NC SOS Crisis Group, which legally represents Suleymanova, has been unable to contact her or verify her whereabouts directly. They claim that Suleymanova was flown to Chechnya after being abducted. 

‘Now there is no line of communication with her, we do not know where she is, the police officers of Saint Petersburg also could not say where she is and on what specific basis they took her away’, the group told OC Media.

Her lawyer from the organisation, Mark Alekseev, was informed by the police that Suleymanova was detained without due process and that the authorities couldn’t locate the jewellery she was accused of stealing.

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The group warns that the woman might be in grave danger in Chechnya, where her family has previously ‘pressured her, restricted her rights, and forced her to comply with local customs’.

‘[They] said that if she did not do this, she would face an honour killing’, the organisation told OC Media. ‘This is when relatives kill family members to purify the blood; to cleanse honour from inappropriate behaviour’.

NC SOS Crisis Group has handled Suleymanova’s case since October 2022, when she turned to them in fear of being killed by her family, who deemed her to be ‘not religious enough’.

She was subject to a previous failed kidnapping attempt by her family in February and has since been living and working in Saint Petersburg.

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