Ruslana Korshunova was born in Alma-Ata, Kazakh SSR, and was of Russian descent. Her father, Sergey Korshunov, died in 1992 when she was 6 years old. Her mother, Valentina (née Kutenkova) and her brother, Ruslan, live in Kazakhstan. She spoke fluent Russian, English and German. She was discovered in 2003, when All Asia magazine printed a story on Almaty's local German language club, which Korshunova was then attending. Her photograph, which was featured in the article, caught the attention of Debbie Jones of Models 1; Jones tracked down and signed up the then 15-year-old Korshunovawho was nicknamed the Russian Rapunzel for her long knee length chestnut hair in her early work.
Korshunova was represented by IMG (New York, Paris, London and Milan), Beatrice (Milan), Traffic Models (Barcelona), Marilyn Models and iCasting Moscow, which was her mother agency. Korshunova modeled for the covers of Elle (France), Vogue (Poland) and Vogue (Russia). She also modeled in print-ads for Blugirl by Blumarine, Clarins, Ghost, Girbaud, Kenzo Accessories, Marithé & François, Max Studio, Moschino, Old England, Pantene Always Smooth, Paul Smith and Vera Wang lingerie.
On June 28, 2008 at around 2:30 p.m., Korshunova died after falling from the ninth-floor balcony of her apartment at 130 Water Street in Manhattan's Financial District. Police stated there were no signs of a struggle in her apartment and concluded that Korshunova's death is an apparent suicide, although no suicide note was found.
One of Korshunova's friends stated that she had just returned from a modeling gig in Paris, noting that she seemed to be "on top of the world" with no apparent reason why she would commit suicide. Korshunova's former boyfriend, Artem Perchenok, stated that he dropped Korshunova off at her apartment several hours before her death after they watched the Demi Moore film Ghost together.She was a good person," he told The New York Post. However, she appeared brokenhearted and angry in some of her postings on a social networking site. Korshunova's most telling message came in March 2008: "I'm so lost. Will I ever find myself
On July 7, 2008, Korshunova was buried at Khovanskoye Cemetery in Moscow. Her mother stated to Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, that the Russian capital was one of her daughter's favorite cities and that "[She] would want her beloved Moscow to be her last resting place."
Ruslana Korshunova fell from her ninth-storey apartment Photo: AP
The body of model Ruslana Korshunova is taken away by Office of Chief Medical Examiner workers in New York, Saturday June 28 Photo: AP
The 20-year-old, who had appeared on the covers of French Elle and Russian Vogue, poured out her heart in postings on social networking sites.
The Kazakh beauty was found dead outside her Manhattan apartment block on Saturday after apparently leaping from her balcony.
While friends said there had been no signs she had been suicidal, internet postings show swings between euphoria and despair in a series of postings on the theme of love.
In one message three months ago she wrote: "I'm so lost. Will I ever find myself?"
An earlier posting, quoted by the New York Daily News, she wrote: "It hurts, as if someone took a part of me, tore it out, mercilessly stomped all over and threw it out." One cryptic entry in March reads: "My dream is to fly. Oh, my rainbow it is too high."
Other postings revealed anger. In March she wrote: "I'm a bitch. I'm a witch. I don't care what you say ... I know why my other relationships didn't work out, 'cause I'm unpredictable. "
Her most recent posting, quoted by the New York Daily News, amounted to a virtual discourse on the theme of love.
"Love is the sun, desire – only flash," she wrote.
"Desire dazzles, and the sun gives life."
"Love does not take away from one in order to give to another,"
Police reported no sign of a struggle inside Miss Korshunova's apartment.
But Kira Titeneva, a friend from Korshunova's hometown, said: "There's no way she would have killed herself. She loved life so much."
Another friend said that Miss Korshunova, who was three days shy of her 21st birthday, was "one of the sweetest, nicest people you'll ever meet." He went on: "I'm still in shock. The world lost a great person."
He added she had just returned from a modelling job in Paris and seemed "on top of the world".
"There were no signs. That's what's driving me crazy. I don't see one reason why she would do that."
The 5 ft 8 in, longhair model, would have earned around $5,000 (£2,500) for a catwalk show and had been sending money home to her family in the former Soviet Republic.
Her death is the latest to rock the fashion world, an industry often criticised for the pressures and demands it can place on models.
Over the past two years, a number of South American models have died of suspected malnutrition, prompting international debate about eating disorders and "size zero" models.
But industry observers urged caution in assuming Korshunova's job was to blame for her death.
Zach Eichman, a spokesman for Korshunova's agency, IMG, which also handles Heidi Klum and Kate Moss, said "she was one our very good working models. She did a lot of shows and successful campaigns.
"Everyone I have spoken to is very surprised and the feedback I am getting from people is that there was little indication that there was something troubling her and that she was always very happy."
A former boyfriend, Artem Perchenok, 24, said he dropped Korshunova off at her apartment several hours before her death after they watched the Demi Moore film Ghost together.