Russian Authorities Investigate 14-Year-Old Model’s Death


The Siberian Times had originally reported that Ms. Dzyuba was suffering from meningitis and severe exhaustion after participating in a 13-hour catwalk show during Shanghai Fashion Week, an unverified claim that was picked up by global news organizations. But the shows in Shanghai ended Oct. 18, and Ms. Dzyuba was not taken to the hospital until Oct. 25.

It is unclear who was responsible for setting up Ms. Dzyuba’s insurance. “Vlada and her mom signed the contract, and Vlada went by herself to Shanghai,” wrote Dmitry Smirnov, a scout who brokered Ms. Dzyuba’s contract with Esee Models, in a chat on the social-media platform Vkontakte. He added that this was the second time Ms. Dzyuba had traveled abroad. She worked for three months in Taiwan last year.

In Perm, Ms. Dzyuba was represented by Great Model, an agency run by Elvira Zaytseva. Ms. Zaytseva was reached on Tuesday through Vkontakte, where she disputed accounts published by Russian media about Ms. Dzyuba being overworked, but would not give specifics. Ms. Zaytseva did not respond to questions about whether her agency had set up insurance for Ms. Dzyuba.

According to a timeline provided by Esee Models, Ms. Dzyuba was on assignment in Yiwu, a city south of Shanghai, on Oct. 23. The next evening, she began to feel ill. Mr. Smirnov said that Ms. Dzyuba had a high temperature and was vomiting. On Wednesday, she returned to Shanghai and was taken to the hospital. She died on Friday morning.

“I didn’t sleep for two days, and everyone was praying for Vlada,” Mr. Smirnov said. “The death of Vlada is not connected to her work as a model. It is a terrible tragedy.”

In a statement provided on Tuesday, Esee Models said: “We lost an angel. We must be strong and persevere in the aftermath. We are now working on an arrangement for the family’s visit to China. We are also doing our best to communicate and cooperate with relevant departments.”

Esee Models said that Ms. Dzyuba worked mostly eight-hour days during her time in China. Under Chinese law, children who are younger than 16 are permitted to work for institutions of literature, art, physical culture and special crafts, so long as the work does not prevent them from attending school.

In the United States and Britain, companies are discouraged from working with models under the age of 16 by their respective fashion councils. New York City has a law in place that classifies underage models as child performers, with regulations that include limited work hours and mandatory trust accounts.

In September, the French conglomerates Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton passed a joint charter promising not to work with models under 16 for “shows or shootings representing an adult” and forbidding models ages 16 and 17 from working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Ms. Kuznetsova, the children’s rights commissioner, announced that her agency would be looking into whether other underage Russian models are working in China without the necessary health insurance.

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