Monday, June 30, 2008

Ruslana Korshunova, R.I.P.

One of the world's most beautiful women committed suicide Saturday at age 20:
Ruslana Korshunova, 20, whose face graced the cover of French Elle and Russian Vogue, apparently jumped from her ninth-floor apartment in her Water Street building in the Financial District at 2:30 p.m. . . .
Korshunova, a green-eyed beauty, known as "The Russian Rapunzel" for her long, flowing chestnut locks, worked with the elite modeling agency IMG. . . .
The 5-foot-8 head-turner -- just days from her 21st birthday -- has been featured in ads for Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Vera Wang and Christian Dior. She was discovered in 2003 when a booker from London-based Models 1, Debbie Jones, noticed her in a feature about the model's hometown of Almaty, Kazakhstan.
"She looked like something out of a fairytale!" Jones told British Vogue. Soon after, the 17-year-old beauty was hailed as the next big thing, gracing runways at Fashion Week wearing Jill Stuart, Betsey Johnson and other designers.
Her exotic beauty -- high cheekbones, pouty lips and epicanthic green eyes -- catapulted Ruslana from small-town life into a world of wealth and glamour at an age when most teenagers are worrying about senior prom and final exams. David Usborne notes:
Like every supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova had to grow up a lot faster than the rest of us. Plucked from her native Kazakhstan by a London fashion agency at just 15 years old, within just two years she was on the catwalks of New York and on the cover of Vogue. Her almond eyes and "fairy-tale" features had given her a life of almost instantaneous success that -- we might imagine now -- became overwhelming. . . .
Korshunova belonged to the internet generation for whom social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can substitute for clubs, confessionals and therapist chairs. "I am so lost. Will I ever find myself?" she wrote on one site three months ago.
Oddly, Ruslana appears to have leapt to her death just hours after a late date (that ended at 5 a.m. Saturday) with her 24-year-old ex-boyfriend, although for the past three months, she'd been dating a new 32-year-old boyfriend:
"She was doing good. She was one of the top models. She was happy with this," said Mark Kaminsky, 32.
Carrying a bouquet of white roses and lilies, Kaminsky wept outside Korshunova's Water St. apartment as he recalled how he met the Kazakh beauty through a friend in March. . . .
The pair moved into Kaminsky's Staten Island house just two days after they met, although Korshunova kept the downtown apartment she treasured.
"We decided right away, we were a good couple. I was in love," said Kaminsky, a luxury car exporter.
He last saw his girlfriend about noon on Saturday, about two hours before she leaped to her death. They had plans to go to her best friend's birthday party that night.
Korshunova seemed to have everything - a jet-set life, a new boyfriend and gorgeous looks that landed her the covers of top fashion magazines.
But everything may have been too much.
Korshunova was barely out of her teens, working near-constantly and - her online confessions reveal - feeling "lost" in a foreign land.
"She gave up on herself," said her ex-boyfriend Artem Perchenok, 24. "Everybody here can barely breathe."
Forget this crap about the existential pressures of being an international supermodel. Does anyone even notice that this 20-year-old girl appears to have been in the middle of a love triangle? Or do young people now take these things so casually that romantic despair can be ruled out automatically?

UPDATE: Linked at The Week Daily. Meanwhile, as at least one commenter has noted, there are those who contend that Ruslana was murdered. There's already a conspiracy theory involving the Russian Mafia:
Beyond that, the basic premise of the conspiracy theory is that the Russian (and one assumes, Kazakh) underworld colludes with their semi-legal oligarchic corporate counterparts and corrupt government officials to traffic in high-dollar model flesh.
Yeah. Listen, people, you need to stop using that cheap store-brand tinfoil in your hats. Everybody knows that only premium-grade Reynolds Aluminum Foil can block those CIA brain-control waves.


  1. The law of gravity in New York is no different (I hope) than anywhere in the world:

    Ruslana Korshunova did not commit suicide.

  2. Whether Ruslana Korshunova killed herself or not remains to be seen. Deliberately throwing oneself off a balcony is not generally the method of choice.

    No one really wants to die. People only think of suicide when they feel they don't have any other choice and most do not commit suicide in private where nobody knows. Telling is telling-revealing. Most talk about wanting to die, because they want someone to give them a way out other than death. Most people commit suicide because they're in pain.

    My name is Hunter. I'm a spokesperson for a national hotline for teens at 1 (800) USA KIDS. We're here 24/7 or teens may Skype me. My Skype username is huntingtonsmith. I'm online a lot but not constantly. My email is The number for adults, the National Suicide Hotline, is 1 (800) 273 TALK. Our website is at (mouseover photos and text).

    The teenage years especially are times of emotional transition. There's a lot of having to grow up all at once that takes place. Suddenly, there are more responsibilities. There's high school and the thought of college. When we go to school as teens, there's no longer the sameness of sitting in one classroom with the same kids and the same teacher everyday. Now, we have to race from class to class. Everything is different. And then there's sex and that's all confusing. I mean, not long ago we used to hate the opposite sex or at least we pretended to and now we're not only supposed to be liking them, but maybe or maybe not getting parts of our body invaded by them and all of those other things that seemed so unthinkable when we first learned about the facts of life. Our bodies change. Our minds change. But we are all immature. We don't know how to handle situations. We don't even know how to handle the thoughts that go through our minds. We feel awkward about relationships. We don't know what we feel. But in it all, there is an awful aloneness, no matter how popular we seem to be.

    Most of us can handle it. But some of us, a lot of us, can't. Each of us has felt suicidal at some point in our teens and the ones who don't are liars. We all cry. We each hurt. But most of us have friends that are there for us to help us through those times. Teens do kill themselves. It happens a lot more often than it should. It happens because no one was there with them at the right time to say just the right words. But it's important to talk. It's important to hold and to be held. It's important to cry and let it all out. Things always change. The light at the end of the tunnel isn't always an oncoming train. If you're feeling suicidal, seek someone out. Sleep helps if you're alone. You will feel better afterwards. And if you know a teen who's talking about death, see if you can get his or her parents to help, Counseling is beneficial, but it isn't a cure. Direction is. Give someone a reason to live and death becomes unthinkable. Joke with them. Make them laugh. Make them see something special in themselves.

  3. Her ex boyfriend mentioned "sharing a cat.." ---where was the cat? Could she have been reaching for it? I keep thinking of the netting being cut...a cat-knowing older person would not cut out an opening, sure. But I can think of dozens of reasons why this could still be an accident or ruled as one.

  4. i have to say that her death is highly suspicious. i live on wall street and witnessed the entire ordeal and i must say that the position and landing of her body does not add up at all, for her body landed a great distance away from her balcony. even if she did leap, there would not have been enough leverage for her to have landed so far into the street due to i) gravity ii) the small opening in the netting. she would have had to to be standing completely vertical in order to attain enough of a push to land that far and even so, her body wouldn't have landed that distance. if she jumped, she would have jumped in a crouching position given both her height and the limited amount of open space. this girl was definitely flung from her balcony. seeing her body on the ground and the fact that she did not scream or anything seriously raises some flags. ruslana did not kill herself.

  5. I totally agree with everything Alessia90 said. I also wondered why she was so far away from the building... wouldn't she fall straight down? It appeared she was out in the street, and a witness said he thought at first she was hit by a car. Why so quickly rule it a suicide? Something is not right here, and someone needs to find out why.

  6. Absolutely agree with the previous post.

    Also Mark Kaminsky saw her couple hours before the tragedy. What it was all about? She told him that she is leaving him? It looks like it was a bad arguments because she spent the night with her another boyfriend.

    Did he has a key to her aparment?
    Where he was at the time of the tragedy?

  7. Would there have not been bursting of the body at such a high altitude? Something does not feel right about this at all..

  8. It is a shame that the US is willing to close the case as suicide. Ruslana's bf killed and then threw Ruslana off the balcony flat. She was dead when she hit the street. This isn't suicide but rather a very large, well manufactured organization that did away with the young model. It wasn't about the money that they killed this young women, rather the knowledge she held, to which they (underground mafia retaliated). How sick is it when the payoff to keep quiet for the truth; overrules honesty. The police are just as corrupt and were paid to rule this as suicide. Plain and simple. Ruslana, you will see Justice. They will get caught, god bless your soul!

  9. Apologies for the long post:
    The death of this young girl is deeply sad, indeed that of ANY young person.
    There are 2 arguments, namely she was the correct age when serious mental health problems begin to manifest, had expressed the fact that she was extremely short of money, was struggling with the end of a love affair, was in pain from a "mystery" stomach complaint and perhaps thought that, as successful as she was, would never be in the top tier in her industry and could find no way out (she had expressed her desire to leave the industry a year ago) - she was presumably intelligent (if she could speak Russian, Kazakh, English & German, she was "discovered" photographed at 14 when she was part of a local German language study group in Kazakhstan) and doubtless neglected her education in favour of earning a living as a model. Her ex boyfriend described her as perfectionistic and as someone who beat herself up when things didn't go her way. Her so called "life coach" (at 20???) in Moscow has come forward saying that she had previously had some mental health issues. The physical evidence, such as has been released to the media, could be a red herring and she landed in the middle of the street in an odd freakish turn of events instead of hitting the canopy of her building below and bouncing onto the street at a closer distance.
    Sadly, 75% of suicides don't leave a note.
    There are legitimate questions here for the other side however.

    None of her friends, nor indeed her family, nor either of her 2 lovers, have reported that her emotional stability had changed visibly in the preceding weeks of her life. They have all stated that she seemed happy. Indeed all the people she came into contact with in the last 24 hours prior to her death say the same.
    The "writings" on her blog are those of a typical late teen who is attempting to come to terms with her identity and not really immediately indicative of suicidal thoughts or intentions. She had no previous history of attempts or of anything other than transient mild depression (common with anyone who works in a reject industry like acting, writing or modeling).

    Then there is the fact that she was supposed to have suffered from vertigo, therefore unlikely to climb onto a balcony, determinedly hack her way through thick plastic safety netting with a kitchen knife, climb onto scaffolding of a neighbouring building (90 feet up) manoeuvering herself to an even higher level and throw herself off that when a gun, or pills (there were pills in her flat), or the subway, or the Brooklyn bridge at night would be equally effective & considerably easier. She would also have had to take a running jump to land in the middle of the street which is dual carriageway and probably 60 feet wide (she fell from 90 foot up so that's quite a swing out for someone "jumping" from such a low height).

    Added to which, statistically, as a young female, she is 85% more likely to have committed suicide without disfiguring herself, as would occur following a high fall.
    She was reportedly taking legal action against an agency who had defrauded her out of $500,000 in earnings (not something you would readily undertake if you were about to end it all). Perhaps the "dark circles" under her eyes were more to do with worry about this and its consequences and not her heartbreak over unrequited love. Unless the right questions are asked here, it is doubtful that the truth will come out. I would be strongly of the opinion that there is not conclusive evidence of suicide and that you cannot rule out foul play until such evidence is presented. Has there been an inquest into her death?
    Has a coroner decided that she irrefutably died by her own hand, and if so with what evidence?
    I support her family, I'm afraid, in insisting that matters are looked into more thoroughly.

    That her death was determined absolutely as suicide within 48 hours of her death on flimsy circumstantial evidence is strange. Do the NYPD not wish to make further investigations because she is from a poor foreign family on a different continent who are effectively powerless to lobby for justice?
    I'm also horrified that IMG models, one of the biggest agencies in the world, would not even pay to have her body shipped home. SHAME ON YOU.

    The Russian Mafia controlling the modeling world is a load of Hollywood nonsense.

    Unscrupulous agents, from all levels, "High Fashion" down, control the models. They always offer clients "extras" (namely prostitution) which the agency takes a cut of.
    A family member of mine was a successful as a model in the 80s/90s and she was asked on several occasions to do this when legally a minor. She was "released" from her very famous agency (the name is also that of a world-wide car manufacturer - draw your own conclusions) because of this, and because her father threatened to go to the police. Whether the directors of this agency were aware that this was going on is debatable, the bookers certainly knew as they were the ones sending her to the "castings". Bullying and abuse of the girls (and boys) at modeling agencies is commonplace and accepted as "part of the fashion world". You have to be lucky, or mercenary and very tough to survive it. My family member joined another agency and eventually made a lot of money through contracts with cosmetics firms. Her career was finished when she was 28 after 15 years in the business. She's now a lawyer if that's an improvement ??? Maybe not. Ahem!!
    I don't think modeling is a healthy environment for a teenager to be involved in and wouldn't recommend it as a career of choice for anyone, knowing what I do. And I wouldn't allow any 20yr old daughter of mine to live alone 5000 miles away without an open return plane ticket. You'd have to be desperate and sure that you had no other options.

    James in London

  10. I visited the site of Ruslana's death and agree with those who are calling for a more complete investigation. The torn netting of her apartment was visible
    and a gentleman on the street pointed it out to me and her apt. Her apartment was 9 floors up (10 counting the first floor). I then measured the distance from the building to the approx. spot where her body landed. It is about 20 feet. My personal conclusion, after talking with a policeman on the street, is that her body might have been carried outwardly from the building - but not 20 feet outward.

    There appears to be at least the possibility of foul play. To land
    that far away, one would need to do a running dive off the ledge, with a start from inside the apartment.
    Police claimed the balcony door had
    been locked from the inside so she could not have run and dove off.

    Also, there is an wooden overhang (temporary construction) to the
    entrance to 130 Seaport (her bldg)
    and anyone falling from above would have hit that first. That extends
    out to the edge of the sidewalk ~
    which is a distance of 13 feet or so ~ plus there is another bldg
    that juts out three floors below her apartment. A direct fall may well have landed there first, then the entrance overhang, then the street. It would take a quantum leap to make it out to the street.

    My sense is her body was thrown to the road pavement from above. She
    may have already been dead before
    being hurled to the road below.

    Who did this? A distraught ex-boyfriend upon learning of her
    sleeping with another lover? The
    agent who she was thinking of suing
    for $500,000 ought to be called in
    for questioning as well. Plus the linkage of the Russian mafia (even though some dismiss this as crazy or nonsense). A full inquiry is a
    must in this case. Are there any
    lawyers who would be willing to
    step up and take the lead in this?

    All of this is not ignore her many emotional problems, depression, the pills found in the apartment, lack
    of meaning in her life (her blog)
    and other disappointments in love.
    Plus there are unexplained health
    issues like extreme weight loss,
    stomach pains, etc. She may well
    have been suicidal and under the
    influence of a drug which intensified her desperation. But
    to write it off as a suicide is
    premature given these other factors
    and deserves a closer look.

    Paul from New Paltz, New York