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Chechen Woman Fleeing Family’s ‘Death Threats’ Leaves Russia, Official Says

Liya Zaurbekova. Social media

A young woman who previously said she fled domestic violence in her native republic of Chechnya has left Russia, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council said Friday.

Liya Zaurbekova, 19, said her family physically and psychologically abused her, according to the human rights group Maram. Earlier this week she fled to Moscow, but after noticing her father outside the apartment where she was staying on Thursday, she called the police.

Zaurbekova was taken to a police station in the Russian capital, after which a group of her relatives surrounded the building and reportedly demanded that she be handed over to them.

“I’m scared of leaving the police station because if they [my family members] grab me in front of officers, then I don’t know what they could do,” Zaurbekova said in a video published by Marem.

On Friday, Alexander Ionov, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council, told journalists that the young woman fled the country. He did not say what role he played in Zaurbekova’s departure from Russia.

“All that remains is to wait for her official confirmation,” Ionov was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency. He also denied that Zaurbekova faced any death threats.

Later on Friday, the young woman’s lawyer Natalia Tikhonova confirmed that her client “is safe outside Russia.”

Adam Delimkhanov, a Russian federal lawmaker from Chechnya and a close ally of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, had previously said he would take efforts to find Zaurbrekova “under his personal control,” according to a top Chechen official.

Russian human rights groups have regularly highlighted the issue of domestic abuse against women in the conservative North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.

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