Heroine of European Film Award-Nominated Doc 'Grozny Blues' Kidnapped in Chechnya

Grozny City H 2015

Human rights activist Taita Yunusova was held for 19 hours before being released, filmmakers say.

A human rights activist who appears in Swiss filmmaker Nicola Bellucci's documentary Grozny Blues was kidnapped and held for 19 hours Sunday in the Chechen capital, local reports say.

Taita Yunusova, one of the heroines of the film — which is among the 15 films nominated for the European Film Awards' first ever documentary section — was seized from the home of relatives in Grozny in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to independent regional news outlet Kavkazski uzel.

Yunusova, who appears in the film that focuses on the lives of four women fighting for human rights in post-war Grozny where political repression and forced Islamification define daily life, was taken from a house on the outskirts of Grozny at around 4 a.m. Sunday morning local time. She was released at 11 p.m. that evening, though other than the fact she was alive, details about her condition are unknown.

Lucia Sgueglia, the film's screenwriter, speculated that Yusunova's kidnapping may have been related to her role in the film, its Moscow-based sales and distribution company ANT!PODE said in a statement.

Yusunova, who is head of Chechen regional public organization The Living Thread, was said to be "OK" after her ordeal.

"She was just released, everything is ok with her. She is alive, and that is what is important," a colleague who requested anonymity, told Kavkazski uzel.

The source said no further details of the kidnapping or release were currently available.

The 104-minute film is due to be screened this month at Russia's Artdocfest — which is being staged in Latvia during the Riga International Film Festival after organizers claimed they had come under political pressure in Russia — and is nominated for the European Film Awards, which take place in Berlin, Dec. 12.