This is the second such case against a family that has participated in the protests in Russia " />

Russian family faces losing custody of children for participation in protests

This is the second such case against a family that has participated in the protests in Russia

Originally published by Novaya Gazeta

A Moscow court will consider a suit to deprive a Russian family of custody of their two of their daughters on September 2. 

The reason?

 On August 3, the Chomsky family was on Pushin Square with their children where a protest rally was being held. The prosecutor’s office claims that the spouses took the children with them to avoid detention, and demands that the two younger girls be removed from their custody.

The Khomsky family at the rally. Source: Novaya Gazeta

The prosecutor’s statement stated that the danger the parents subjected their daughters – three-month-old Sasha and three-year-old Anya – to came, on the one hand, from “a large number of aggressively-minded protesters,” and, on the other, “from the armed employees of the Russian National Guard”.

The lawsuit was filed the day that federal channel REN TV published a video on its website – the clip shows the Chomsky family walking with strollers along Pushkinskaya Square. Their eldest daughter, 10-year-old Liza, walks beside them.

Beside the Khomsky family is a Russian National Guard unit.

REN TV called the actions of the couple a “provocation, which the Russian National Guard did not give into.”

The girls’ father himself said that he is a “civic activist with experience”, and that the first time when he came to a rally was in 1989 on Manezhnaya Square – he was 14 years old. Today he continues his activism work – on a voluntary basis he helps the Anti-Corruption Fund and its leader Alexei Navalny in his campaigns.

He describes the day on August 3 as follows:

“My wife and I went for a walk with the children, we stopped at the playgrounds, played. At some point, we crossed Tverskaya, emerged from the pedestrian crossing, that is, we did not see what was happening ahead. We had just got out of the passage and saw a “chain” of the Russian National Guard, which was forcing people out of the square. We quickly walked away from there. At some point, we were caught between the crowd and the chain. It was a good picture for the media, and they all began to film us abruptly, both from mobile phones and cameras. And then one of these videos was posted on the web. We did not stick around even a minute, moved and immediately left. Then we went along the boulevards and stopped only at the next playground.”

Petr Khomsky focuses on the fact that their walk was nothing like a protest rally –  they did not shout slogans, did not carry posters, and stayed away from the crowd.

The prosecutor’s office demands that only the youngest children be taken from the Khomsky family. Mr Khomksy says that the authorities are trying to put pressure on them, especially his wife.

“My wife Lena is in a state of shock, she is still breastfeeding our three-month-old daughter Sasha. I am very worried about her.”

The children’s ombudsman of Moscow, Yevgeny Bunimovich, says he is looking into the case.

“I need to understand what they are accused of. This is an emergency situation … It simply contradicts the state policy in the field of preservation of children in the family,” the Ombudsman said, commenting on the situation.

The Prokazov family faced a similar issue.

A criminal case was opened against them on August 6 on a similar basis – ‘endangering and neglecting obligations towards a minor’, due to the fact that the Prokazovs took their one-year-old son Artemy with them to an unsanctioned protests on July 27.

As in the case of the Khomsky family, the only evidence was a video clip put out by the news programme Vesti on Rossiya 1 from the July 27 protest.

In the video, Dmitry Prokazov gives his son over to Sergei Fomin, the cousin of his wife and a civil activist.

Subsequently, Sergei Fomin was arrested, and now he is a defendant in the case of “participating in mass riots”.

According to the investigation, the child was handed over to Fomin so that he could freely leave the riot police cordon.

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