Young woman kidnapped by Russian police may have been murdered for refusing “arranged marriage”

Seda Suleimanova before her abduction and return to Chechnya.

“She was a normal girl, like me or anyone else,” Elena Patayeva said of her close friend, Seda Suleimanova. The two met in St. Petersburg, Russia, where 26-year-old Suleimanova had fled after relatives in her native republic of Chechnya threatened to kill her if she refused an arranged marriage.

By Lucas Zalalis | The Moscow Times

On Wednesday, the human rights group NC SOS announced that Suleimanova may have been murdered in a so-called “honor killing”, a practice in which a young woman is killed by a relative, usually a family member, for dishonoring or embarrassing her family. Is killed by the man.

“He loved finding new albums to listen to, driving through the countryside with me and drawing. She was also planning to make drawing her job, become a graphic designer and look for courses,” Patayeva told The Moscow Times about her friend.

“She was relaxed… We were not talking about Chechnya or her old life, we were talking about our feelings, the future, things that friends usually talk about,” Patayeva said.

In late August 2023, Suleimanova was abducted from her Saint Petersburg apartment by Russian police officers and a group of unidentified Chechen men.

There has been no news of him in more than 150 days since he was taken to the Chechen capital Grozny and handed over to his relatives.

“We have reason to believe that Seda Suleimanova may have been murdered,” NC SOS spokeswoman Alexandra Miroshnikova told The Moscow Times.

Multiple independent sources, which we cannot make public for security reasons, told us that Suleimanova was the victim of an “honor killing.”

Seda Suleimanova (right) and Elena Petyaeva.

Honor killings occur extensively in the largely Muslim regions of Russia’s North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, Miroshnikova said. Due to the high level of secrecy it is impossible to know how many women have been murdered in this manner.

At home, Suleimanova’s mother regularly went through her daughter’s personal belongings, monitored her phone, and forbade her from having a private life after work.

She contacted NC SOS when she first tried to escape her abusive family environment in 2022, and when her cousin tried to kidnap her shortly after arriving in St. Petersburg.

“When Seda first contacted us, he told us that his family had repeatedly threatened to kill him. And now, with several independent statements, we believe that murder may have occurred,” Miroshnikova said.

On the same day that it was announced that Suleimanova had been murdered, NC SOS sent a letter to the Investigative Committee of Russia demanding that an investigation be launched.

“To be honest, the current legal situation in Russia does not give us much hope,” Miroshnikova said. “We had no success in contacting the investigation committee. “They believe he returned to Chechnya voluntarily, which is absurd.”

Miroshnikova said NC SOS now plans to “bombard” the Investigative Committee and Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova with requests.

Just before the news broke about Suleimanova’s possible murder, her friend Patayeva organized a solo protest in front of the St. Petersburg prosecutor’s office. She was taken into custody almost immediately after she opened a sign that read: “Where is Seda Suleimanova? “No one has seen him in 150 days.”

Read more at Moscow Times

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