Fri, 19 Jul 2019

A judge in Moscow has extended pre-trial restrictions for three sisters who have acknowledged stabbing their father to death following years of domestic abuse, in a case that has fueled a split in Russian society over controversial legislation significantly easing punishment for perpetrators of domestic battery.

The Khachaturyan sisters -- Maria, Angelina and Krestina -- have been kept under limited house arrest and subjected to various restrictions since their father, Mikhail, died in July 2018.

The women, aged 17, 18 and 19, respectively, face up to 20 years in prison on charges of premeditated murder.

An investigation by the prosecutor's office concluded earlier this month, and an official indictment was issued against the daughters on June 14.

The document, a redacted version of which was made public in a Facebook post by Angelina's lawyer Aleksei Parshin, states that the women were regularly subjected to sexual abuse and humiliation by their father.

Parshin wrote that on the day of the murder, Mikhail Khachaturyan had repeatedly humiliated his daughters, at one point causing Krestina, the eldest, to lose consciousness after spraying a pepper gun in her face.

He and other lawyers representing the Khachaturyan sisters have appealed to the head of Russia's Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, in a bid to overturn the indictment in favor of one that reflects the defensive nature of the women's actions.

'The indictment, to put it mildly, is odd,' Parshin wrote on Facebook. 'The case for the prosecution is full of conjectures, fabrications and inconsistencies.'

The trial of the Khachaturyan sisters has received broad coverage from Russian federal channels, independent and global media, and has fueled an animated discussion of society's approach to domestic abuse following the 2017 introduction of a law decriminalizing most forms of battery.

On June 19, some 350 people gathered beside the headquarters of the Investigative Committee in Moscow, waiting in line to stage one-man pickets in defense of the Khachaturyan sisters.

'Necessary self-defense cannot be a crime,' one of the placards read.

'The father physically, emotionally, and sexually abused his daughters all their lives,' read another, 'For saving themselves, they face 20 years in prison. No more victim-blaming!'

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta and Moscow Times

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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