Last week, a 14-year-old model from Perm, Russia, died while on a three-month assignment in China, setting off questions and a burst of unverified information regarding the circumstances of her death.
On Tuesday, Russian authorities in Perm announced that they were starting a criminal investigation into whether Vlada Dzyuba’s death was caused by neglect, according to a local news publication.
The inquiry could shed light on why “a child who has not reached 14 years of age found herself abroad, who it was that brokered her contract, why she did not have the documents that provide medical support,” said Anna Kuznetsova, the children’s rights commissioner for the Russian Federation, at a news conference in Vladivostok, according to the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.
One red flag that has caught the attention of authorities: Ms. Dzyuba did not have health insurance, though her contract with Esee Models, the management company in Shanghai that hired her, stipulated that she should have enrolled before her arrival. Her lack of insurance may have kept Ms. Dzyuba from speaking up about the pains she was experiencing.
Though an autopsy has not been performed, Andrey Kulikov, a representative of the Russian consulate in Shanghai, told RIA Novosti that the cause of Ms. Dzyuba’s death appeared to be multiple organ failure caused by sepsis and an infection in her nervous system.
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.