Tsurkov's sister calls out Al-Sudani in D.C.

Iraqi PM confronted in U.S. over fate of kidnapped Princeton researcher

WASHINGTON — The Iraqi government’s efforts to secure the release of Elizabeth Tsurkov, a Princeton doctoral candidate and dual Russian-Israeli citizen abducted in Baghdad last year, came under fire on Friday as a woman claiming to be Tsurkov’s sister interrupted an event featuring Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa’ Al-Sudani, accusing him of inaction and colluding with the captors.

Al-Sudani was speaking at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. when the woman shouted, “My sister has been held hostage for 13 months and you don’t care.” She further accused the Prime Minister of failing to save Tsurkov because of close ties Kataib Hezbollah, the group allegedly behind her kidnapping.

The confrontation, which lasted nearly two minutes without intervention from security or other personnel, was captured on video and shared on social media.

Tsurkov, the Princeton scholar, was reported missing in March 2023 after entering Iraq on a Russian passport to reportedly conduct research. Her disappearance sparked concerns for her safety, with Tel Aviv demanding accountability from Iraqi authorities. Iraq and Israel, however, do not have formal diplomatic relations.

Al-Sudani’s office has responded to international concern by vowing to hold those responsible for Tsurkov’s abduction accountable. In a recent statement, the Prime Minister pledged full cooperation with “friendly countries” to uncover Tsurkov’s whereabouts and ensure justice is served.

Furthermore, the Iraqi government reportedly has assembled a team to secure the researcher’s release, working on intel from allies.