(NEW YORK) — A Russian model who committed suicide in 2008 after joining a sect ended her days angry, confused and struggling to cope, journalist Peter Pomerantsev says in a new book.
Ruslana Korshunova, who leaped off a Manhattan building to her death one summer day, had joined a group called Rose of the World while living in Russia, wrote Pomerantsev, who spent years researching what happened to the model for a 2011 documentary. Now his findings are detailed in his book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia, out this month.
Korshunova’s friends and family struggled to understand what made the successful beauty, only 20 when she died, take her own life.
“Nothing quite adds up,” Pomerantsev told ABC News. “Everyone keeps on saying she was such a normal girl. But to be honest, that’s not unusual for suicides. It’s a horribly tragic story, very depressing.”
At the time she turned to the group, Korshunova’s modeling career appeared to be in decline. Pomerantsev said she joined the group in part to confront her problems with relationships and was sucked in to a world of “life trainers.” The apparent goal is to for sect members to “perfect” themselves and be more “effective” people, according to the book.
But it appeared to take over Korshunova’s life, friends told Pomerantsev, to the point where they noticed alarming changes in her behavior.
Korshunova became angry, depressed and frustrated with her love life before she died, he said, despite having lived the high life in Manhattan, even becoming the face of a Nina Ricci perfume campaign.
According to Pomerantsev, Rose of the World claims breakdowns are part of a healing process.
“That’s normal,” a senior member of Rose of the World named Volodya told Pomerantsev, according to his book. “We call it a rollback. Ruslana had one. She would cry at night. Would wander about town, not knowing where she was going. You have to go through that to grow.”
Pomerantsev said Rose of the World, which is active in Russia, has since changed its name.
A Russian group called Novgorodtsev Education confirmed to ABC News it used to be called Rose of the World, but director Denis Vasijiev said he has never heard of Pomerantsev’s book or documentary, and declined to comment to ABC News on Korshunova.
However, Korshunova’s reported “life coach” spoke to the New York Daily News after her death in 2008 and suggested the sect was helping her address romantic and money troubles.
“I saw her and heard her stories, stories that no one else has heard,” Vladislav Novgorodtsev told the Daily News. “The most important thing about her and her internal world was that she was lonely. There was no one who was really dear to her, except for her mother.”
Police ruled Korshunova’s death a suicide, but some friends and family members still buy into conspiracy theories or blame the group, Pomerantsev said.
“Suicide is a very, very complex thing,” he said. “To say it was just because of this or this or this is probably naive. It doesn’t work that way.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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