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Russia investigates disappearance of Chechen woman six months after reported abduction

4 April 2024
Seda Suleymanova. Image via NC SOS Crisis Group.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched an investigation into the disappearance and possible murder of Seda Suleymanova, over six months after her reported abduction to Chechnya from Saint Petersburg.

The North Caucasus SOS Crisis Group (NC SOS) reported that the Investigative Committee began its investigation into Suleymanova’s possible murder on Wednesday.

The organisation, which legally represents Suleymanova, works with queer people and people fleeing from domestic abuse in the North Caucasus. They urged people to submit official requests to investigate Suleymanova’s current condition in February, and reported that more than 2,000 people had demanded an official investigation into her disappearance as of mid-March.

[Read more: ‘Thousands’ demand investigation into possible murder of Seda Suleymanova]

‘Applicants who sent applications through a special form began to receive responses from the Investigative Committee about the initiation of a criminal case’, the group wrote.

‘Before this, they only received answers from the Prosecutor’s Office, which stated that the applicant did not have the right to request such information or that the appeal had been transferred to the Investigative Committee’, they said, adding that the Prosecutor’s Office has also concluded that Suleymanova had ‘voluntarily’ returned to Chechnya to stay with her family.

Suleymanova has been feared dead since February, after allegedly being abducted from her flat in Saint Petersburg in August 2023, and subsequently detained at a police station on suspicion of stealing jewellery. According to NC SOS, Suleymanova was subsequently handed over to her family in Chechnya, and has since not been in contact with the group or her friends.


The group had previously warned her life could be in danger if she were returned to Chechnya, where they said her family had previously ‘pressured her, restricted her rights, and forced her to comply with local customs’.

The group told OC Media in August 2003 that they had previously threatened to kill her if she did not comply.

Following her reported abduction from Saint Petersburg last year, Chechnya’s Human Rights Commissioner Mansur Sultayev published a video of his meeting with Suleymanova in Chechnya.

Soltayev has been sanctioned by the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine, with Washington citing his reported association with human rights violations and abuses. 

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