A criminal case has been opened into the “unknown disappearance” of Seda Suleymanova

A criminal case has been opened into the “unknown disappearance” of Seda Suleymanova

A criminal case has been opened in Chechnya into the “unknown disappearance” of 27-year-old Seda Suleymanova. Human rights activists and friends of the missing woman have been striving for this for a long time. They claim that Ms. Suleymanova ran away from her family in 2023 to avoid a marriage imposed by her relatives. However, the police detained the woman in St. Petersburg and took her to Chechnya. Seda Suleymanova has not been in contact since August 2023 - and human rights activists fear that she could have become a victim of a so-called honor killing. They hope the investigation will produce “adequate and complete results.”

The Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia (IC ICR) for the Chechen Republic opened a criminal case “into the unknown disappearance” of Seda Suleymanova, a native of the region. The department emphasizes that the department for investigating particularly important cases has been investigating the missing woman since March 25.

As Kommersant previously reported, attention to the disappearance of Seda Suleymanova was drawn to the attention of the human rights organization “Crisis Group SK SOS” (included in the register of foreign agents). In October 2022, the woman asked human rights activists to help her leave Chechnya. Mrs. Suleymanova explained that her relatives, under the threat of so-called honor killing, forced her to live according to traditional customs and wanted to force her into marriage. At the beginning of 2023, the Russian woman was taken to St. Petersburg; there she lived with her fiancé Stanislav Kudryavtsev. According to human rights activists, her brothers tried to kidnap a woman in St. Petersburg, but she managed to escape. After this, the relatives promised to “involve law enforcement agencies.”

On August 24, 2023, Seda Suleymanova and Stanislav Kudryavtsev were detained by police officers and “Chechens in civilian clothes.” The woman was informed that she was suspected of stealing jewelry. Human rights activists emphasize that Ms. Suleymanova was not wanted and did not have any jewelry with her. Nevertheless, she was taken by plane to Chechnya. The next day, lawyers from the human rights group flew to Grozny, but the police did not allow them to see their client. The security forces said that they had already interrogated Seda Suleymanova as a witness in the theft case, and then handed her over to her family.

On August 29, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, Mansur Soltaev, published a photo of a conversation with Seda Suleymanova. “I was convinced that she was not in danger, she was safe,” said the ombudsman. “I talked with her relatives and with the girl herself. She feels good. There are no violations of rights or harassment against her.” A few days later, the ombudsman published a short video, which he claims was from the home of the Suleymanov family. In the recording, Seda Suleymanova does not say anything and silently follows Mansur Soltaev. She was “in good spirits,” the ombudsman said. “I talked to her relatives and the girl herself. I saw that she was pleased to be with her family,” he wrote in his Telegram channel. “Seda refutes rumors and various messages related to her. The girl is in good spirits and has no complaints.”

However, these publications did not reassure human rights activists and friends of Seda Suleymanova. They regularly go out on pickets with posters “Where is Seda Suleymanova?” “After being brought to Chechnya, she never contacted anyone again,” the girl’s friend Elena Patyaeva told Kommersant. “Not only with me, but also with her fiancé Stanislav, with other friends, with human rights activists, with journalists - not with anyone at all, not once, in any format. If she were alive and had access to a phone, she would definitely contact us.”

In October 2023, the SOS Crisis Group (included in the register of foreign agents) called for a letter to the prosecutor’s office with a request to check “the actions of the police, the validity of Seda’s detention and her forced return to Chechnya.” In February, human rights activists repeated the action, calling on them to write to the prosecutor’s office, the Investigative Committee and the Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova “with a demand to check the fact of Seda’s possible murder.” According to human rights activists, more than 2 thousand people wrote statements. At the same time, Elena Patyaeva turned to the Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) for help. Council members Eva Merkacheva and Sergei Solovyov sent requests to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Ivan Krasnov and the head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin.

On April 2, some applicants received a response to the first appeal - from the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee for the Chechen Republic (the document is at the disposal of Kommersant). It was from this that it became known about the initiation of a criminal case “into the unknown disappearance” of Seda Suleymanova. “The progress and results of the criminal investigation have been taken under control by the Investigation Department,” the statement says.

Human rights activists admit that the department’s response contains “a very limited amount of information”—for example, it does not even report a specific article of the Criminal Code. “However, an open criminal case is a serious measure,” commented the department’s response from the SOS Crisis Group (included in the register of foreign agents). “Of course, I would like to believe that the investigation will give adequate and complete results, but, let’s be honest, there is little chance. Unfortunately, our previous work experience shows that all checks are of a rather formal nature.” HRC member Eva Merkacheva told Kommersant that she and Sergei Solovyov contacted “all departments,” but received “absurd replies.” She is glad that some specifics have appeared in the situation: “Finally, the matter has moved forward. We really hope she’s alive.”

Kommersant asked the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, Mansur Soltanov, to comment on the initiation of a criminal case into the girl’s disappearance, but has not yet received a response.

Emilia Gabdullina, Alexander Chernykh

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