Skip to main content

Proof of life video of Russian-Israeli scholar suggests Iraqi captors want to negotiate

The first video appearance of kidnapped Russian-Israeli scholar Elizabeth Tsurkov could mean her Shiite militia captors are seeking a deal for her release.
Elizabeth Tsurkov

A purported video of Russian-Israeli scholar Elizabeth Tsurkov that surfaced on Monday has raised hopes that her Shiite militia captors are seeking a deal, according to sources involved in efforts for her release.  

The video aired on Iraqi Al Rabiaa TV, which is linked to Shiite political parties. It was the first time Tsurkov, 37, has been publicly shown since her March 21 abduction from a Baghdad cafe. A family spokesman told Al-Monitor, “It is encouraging to see this proof of life video that was clearly filmed in recent weeks. While we can’t comment on what Elizabeth is saying, we appreciate that this is an important step in the process to bring her home to her family."

The video was subsequently aired on three other channels, including one associated with Kataib Hezbollah, the radical Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary group that is holding to her, according to the sources briefing al-Monitor.

“The purpose of the video is to start a dialogue. They want something and they want to discuss it,” said one of the sources, speaking not for attribution because of the sensitive nature of the issue. “She looks as good as can be expected. She does not appear to be hurt, but she looks definitely scared. She makes mention of her 37th birthday and the conflict in the Gaza Strip, which suggest that the video was shot in the last two weeks.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.