POLICE fear remains found at a remote spot are those of missing Edinburgh University student Yulia Solodyankina.
It is understood officers are making urgent inquiries to establish if the remains belong to the 22-year-old, whose sudden disappearance seven months ago sparked a major search across the city and nationwide headlines.
Her family has been notified about the grim find.
The remains were found near the A83 just west of Arrochar, Argyll, at the north end of Loch Long on Thursday.
Sources close to the investigation said the height of the body and clothing found at the scene suggest it could be the student.
The fast moving inquiry is expected to yield answers this weekend.
Officers moved quickly to dispel suggestions the body was that of Edinburgh bookkeeper Suzanne Pilley.
She disappeared in May 2010 after setting off for work in Thistle Street.
Her former lover, David Gilroy, 50, was later convicted of her murder and jailed for life.
Prosecutors believe he dumped her body near the Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll.
While Thursday’s find was in the right geographical ball park to suggest Ms Pilley, it is believed the fact officers were presented with badly decomposed remains – and not historic remains – led them quickly to rule out any suggestion it was the missing 38-year-old.
Last night, Yulia’s father, Dmitry Solodyankina, who lives in Moscow, said he was unable to speak about the developments.
Police Scotland confirmed “further examination of the remains” was taking place. But a spokeswoman said: “The inquiry is at a very early stage.”
Police believe the physics student caught a bus to the Highlands or Argyll after disappearing from the Capital.
Fort William and Inverness were mooted as likely destinations, but the search area was widened to include Argyll.
Yulia, who lived in South Clerk Street, has not been in contact with friends or family since June 6 after leaving The Wee Red Bar in Lady Lawson Street at around 9pm.
She was last seen on CCTV at Buchanan Street bus station in Glasgow at 4.55pm on June 7. She had travelled on a Citylink bus from Edinburgh, which left St Andrew Square bus station at around 3.25pm.
Prior to boarding the bus, she was seen on CCTV on South Bridge at 2.50pm before walking on to North Bridge.
She was then seen on CCTV in Multrees Walk, before arriving at the bus station.
The footage shows her wearing a dark coat with belt, dark shoulder bag, a red and orange scarf, grey trousers, and brown shoes with white laces.
Investigators immediately became concerned for the keen dancer’s safety after she left many of her personal belongings at her flat, including her phone, laptop and passport.
Her boyfriend, Antoine Dao, was among those making public appeals for her return. He said that Yulia had been “very stressed” about her university exams before going missing.
Posters featured a message in Russian from her father, reading: “Yulia, come back, we love you. Nothing else matters.”
Electronic billboards on Princes Street carried photos of Yulia while Edinburgh University called upon its 30,000 students to aid the search.