KP journalist traveled to New York to find out if Ruslana Korshunova’s death was suicide or murder
Why don’t the police think it’s murder?
All Ruslana’s friends and acquaintances say she didn’t have any enemies. They also describe her as a kind and caring person. Of course, people probably envied her as she had made a wonderful career for herself. But it’s unlikely she was killed as a result — especially in such a professional manner without leaving any evidence behind. Regardless, her mother and friends say a more detailed investigation must be conducted. Not all the pieces of the puzzle in the official version fit together.
Ruslana’s apartment rests behind a white door. Inside things are slightly disarranged. Her mother recently came and packed up everything that would remind her of her daughter. There is a plush Cheburashka on the sofa. The doors to the wardrobe are propped open and dresses are poking out.
Her balcony: A key piece of the puzzle
“Ruslana was afraid of heights,” said her ex-boyfriend Artem Perchenok. “She even smoked standing on the threshold to the balcony. But she’d never actually go outside. Look here.” He pointed to cigarette butts lying on the ground. “These are a man’s cigarettes. Ruslana only smoked thin, lady’s cigarettes. Why didn’t the police pay attention to this?”
To the right, I saw the fence between Ruslana’s balcony and the neighboring building that is under construction. Here is the hole that she allegedly climbed through onto the construction site, according to the police. I’m a man and it’s very difficult for me to climb through. It’s possible, but difficult physically (see photo). In addition, one actually has to jump from her balcony to the construction site. The distance is about one meter. One would have to have a real desire and reason to struggle through the fence and leap to the next building.
“I think it’s possible Ruslana was pulled over there and thrown off,” said Artem. “I can’t believe she just wanted to say goodbye when she came to see me the day before she died. Why didn’t the police interrogate me? They didn’t interrogate Mark either, Ruslana’s boyfriend, and he was the last person to speak with her!?”
I learned later how the New York Police Department is structured and why they decided straight off why Ruslana had committed suicide. First Ruslana wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Second the police weighed the evidence about a possible suicide and murder. They understood the case wouldn’t get far, so why should they start to begin with? I was bit upset by the news, but this is what I was told by people who were born in the U.S. and know the system. The myth about the wonderful U.S. police soon faded away.
Version 5: Criminal motives
Ruslana’s death in many ways look like a suicide. But who would want to kill her? Her ex-boyfriend Artem would be a suspect. Maybe he was jealous? But I saw the way he talked about her, and it’s clear he still loves her. He also has an alibi. He was at home with his parents the whole day. Another version is her last boyfriend Mark Kaminskiy killed her. He’s a rather closed person and has had problems with the police.
“I swear I saw copies of the police records,” said Ruslana’s close friend. He doubts the official version and has his own connections in the New York Police Department. “Kaminskiy’s ex-wife issued a restraining order against him in 2001. He was arrested for illegally possessing a firearm and marijuana in 2003 and 2005.”
Officially, the New York Police Department hasn’t confirmed the information.
Mark actively promotes his hardcore lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Given the circumstances, this leaves plenty of room for the imagination. Maybe Ruslana lent him money and then he couldn’t repay her? But the concierge says no one went to see Ruslana before she jumped off the building. And it’s impossible to enter through the backdoor unnoticed. The intruder would have to walk by the concierge either way.
Today Kaminskiy says he sells elite automobiles in Brooklyn. But none of the high-end dealers know him in this area of the city. And he refuses to speak with journalists.
“Komsomolskaya Pravda? If you print even one word about us we’ll sue!” said Mark’s friend. He’s unshaven with baggy pants. There are plenty of criminals that look just like him at the bazaars in Moscow. Mark is standing nearby. He looks shaken and is nervously smoking a cigarette. They came to Ruslana’s farewell ceremony in New York. Mark spits, turns around and walks away.
Version 6: Mafia?
“I know you’re investigating the story,” I heard after receiving an unexpected call from Moscow several days later. “Call me Maksim. I’ve been in the modelling business for a long time. And my wife is also a model. This is just to let you know that I know my way around the business.” I listened silently.
Maksym continued: “Kaminskiy is the right-hand man of Petr Listerman, a matchmaker who sets up wealthy men with models. Petr has a show on MUZ TV called ‘Beauties and the Beast.’ In one episode he and Kaminskiy went to Milan to find young models.”
“You think Ruslana may have fallen under the influence of these dubious characters?” I asked.
“I’m not saying anything,” Maksym said. “But here are some facts for you. Several years ago I held a casting session at a Moscow club. Kaminskiy stood in the doorway. Listernman called me that evening and demanded I give him one of the models who had gone to the club. He said we could make big money if we delivered her to the bed of an oligarch during his trip to Kurshevel. And there was real pressure — with threats and promises to earn unheard of cash.”
“You think this could have happened with Ruslana?” I asked.
“I’m not saying anything. But if some rich man paid for Ruslana, then Listerman would have been on her like a bulldog. They give a lot of money for that. I’d guess the starting price would be around one million dollars. Mark is a professional pimp. He’s the macho who works in the girls and does the pre-sale preparation.”
Version 7: Depression?
Now let’s think about how the events could have unfolded based on what we have learned about Kaminskiy.
Ruslana was a deeply generous, impressionable person — like a child.
“She would cry for any, even trivial reason,” Artem’s parents told me. “She took everything so personally.”
Not long before, Ruslana had broken up with Artem. And she couldn’t go to see his parents, who were like her second family, to cry on their shoulders. Remember, Ruslana wound up in the modelling business in New York at 15 years old with few friends and her mother in far-way Almaty.
Shortly after their break-up, Mark appeared. Could he have made her fall in love with him and then started pressuring her? She may have understood the real reason behind Kaminskiy’s courting before her death. Ruslana left a message on his Odnoklassniki.ru page that said: “You’re an animal. You scare me.” It’s clear something was going on.
That’s the only way I can explain why Ruslana went to see Artem the night before she died. She wanted to see her family and felt drawn to their warmth. Her break-up with Artem also seemed idiotic. She loved him, too.
A key piece of the puzzle is Mark’s call to Ruslana shortly before she committed suicide. It’s unclear what they talked about. Mark says they agreed to go to a party later that evening. But they could have talked about anything. Maybe he began pressuring her about offering sex services for big money? Why not? It’s obvious something shattered deep inside her after the conversation, and there was only one way to remedy the situation.
What condition do you have to be in to climb through a balcony and jump to a neighboring building despite a fear of heights? Maybe she was taking drugs? It’s feasible Mark could have gotten her on addicted. But Ruslana’s friends say she didn’t even drink. She couldn’t handle even small volumes a alcohol, they say. In that case, her weak physiology would have led to a seriously misconstrued perception of reality should she have taken drugs, said Moscow-based narcology expert Pavel Kuchuk.
But again this is just another a version. A complete analysis of Ruslana’s blood at the moment of her death will only be ready in mid-September. READ MORE