Russian police arrested and returned Monday two women who tried to flee their families in Dagestan, a women’s rights activist told The Moscow Times.
Authorities in the central city of Kazan have detained two 20-year-old women from a city women’s shelter without explanation, the shelter’s program manager Alsu Krivel told The Moscow Times.
The women had arrived at the shelter earlier on Monday, after fleeing an abusive environment in their homes in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus, Krivel added. She said their relatives held positions of power in Dagestan and suspected that this played a role in the Kazan authorities’ cooperation in apprehending the women and facilitating their return.
One of the women then had her two-year-old daughter with her, Krivel said.
Russian human rights groups have repeatedly highlighted the dangerous conditions facing women in conservative North Caucasian republics, including Chechnya and Dagestan. In June 2020, activists Recount the UN that the situation was critical, with domestic violence, supposedly honor killings and female genital mutilation widespread throughout the region.
“They found us”
The two women arrived in Kazan early Monday morning and at 3:00 p.m. they were transferred to one of the residences at the shelter, Krivel told the Moscow Times in a telephone interview.
âAnother women’s shelter in Dagestan reached out and asked us to take them as they were in danger of being found in Dagestan. We put them in one of our residences whose location is secret.
However, Kazan local police located and detained the women at 8:00 p.m. Monday evening and within hours they had been returned to their families.
âThe Home Office told us that the girls themselves disclosed their location to family members,â Krivel said.
Hours after their release, a video was posted on social media in which the women said they were safe with loved ones. The video has since been deleted.
The last text the shelter received from one of the women said: âThey found us, the police are at the shelter. ”
“Since then, no one has heard from them,” Krivel told the Moscow Times.
Journalists and women’s rights groups in Dagestan and across the North Caucasus say they are regularly confronted threats, bullying and violence.