A teenage model who was thought to have died from ‘exhaustion’ while in China may have been murdered.
14-year-old Vlada Dzyuba from Perm, Russia, became ill and died suddenly during a three-month-long modelling trip.
Vlada became sick following a 13 hour modelling assignment in Yiwu. She was not taken to hospital, and was instead instructed to make the 185 mile rail return journey to Shanghai to rest.
The teenager’s condition quickly deteriorated, with her temperature reaching above 102F. It was at this point she was eventually sent to hospital where she passed away after less than two days.
Our prayers go out to #VladaDzyuba 's friends and family ❤️ it's absolutely disgraceful that anyone would overwork a 14 YEAR OLD child like this… Hoping that justice will be served ?dailymail.uk #fibcast #fashionindustrybroadcast #fashion #RIP #russianmodel #exploitation #modelling #slavecontract #Russia #China #modellingnews #childlabour
It was originally believed Vlada had been overworked – having been exploited by the fashion industry like many young girls before her. Meningitis or septicaemia were also reported to be possible causes.
The incident sparked fresh criticism of the modelling industry, with many people wondering why a young girl had been working such long hours, far from home and without medical insurance.
The Siberian Times reported Vlada had previously told her mother Oksana about her extreme tiredness during a telephone call.
Vlada Dzyuba, 14 year-old Russian model collapsed after working herself to death during a three-month assignment in China….The industry have to pay much more attention to working conditions for young models and the way they are harshly exploited. #modellife #modelsrights #modelsmatter #awarness #vladadzyuba
Last month, the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case into her death. Now new fears have been raised regarding the true nature of her death, with some believing the child model could have been murdered by a rival.
Doctors at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai where Vlada died explained how she had suffered from blood poisoning ‘with multiple visceral organs damaged, liver dysfunction and renal insufficiency’.
Once Vlada’s body was flown back to Russia, an autopsy report indicated traces of a mysterious ‘biological poison’.
Citing law enforcement sources, news outlet Life made the following report, according to The Siberian Times:
The origin of the poison has not been established yet.
Vlada could have been bitten by a mortally poisonous insect, she could have eaten something, or been deliberately poisoned.
Esee Model Management has given the following statement as to why Vlada was not brought straight to hospital when she first fell ill:
Because as we mentioned, at the beginning, her condition wasn’t so bad, she did vomited [sic] but nothing serious, so she looked that she had eaten something bad and felt sick.
Even when she first visited Ruijin hospital in Shanghai, the doctors also did some test to see if she had eaten something bad to cause her illness.
So, she wasn’t so serious when she was in Yiwu, and that was why we didn’t send her to hospital there.
The agency also commented on whether Vlada was initially too afraid to visit a doctor due to not having had medical insurance while in China:
To visit a doctors in China doesn’t cost a fortune. Whenever a model informed us that they were sick and needed to go to the hospital, we will definitely help them to do so.
Even they don’t have any insurance to cover, we will pay for them for the medical expenses, of course they should have their own insurance before they arrived Shanghai as we mentioned.
We take care of our models and help them whenever they need. We would never leave them alone if they need to see a doctor whether they have insurance or not.
At the time of writing, the Russian authorities have yet to offer an official comment regarding their latest reports.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.