Court in Finland refuses to return children to Russian mother

Judge Reja Suni of the Helsinki Administrative Court has upheld the decision to separate Russian mother Anastasia Zavgorodnaya from her newborn baby.

Anastasia Zavgorodnaya received the Helsinki Administrative Court's ruling on Monday in connection with her request to annul the decision to separate her from her children, Finnish human rights campaigner Johan Backman told Interfax on Tuesday. The court refused to return the children to the mother on the grounds that the father "could spank the children." No charges were listed against Anastasia, he said.

Zavgorodnaya 6-year old daughter Veronika, who does not speak Finnish well, allegedly told her teacher at school that her father had spanked her.

Veronika was forced by police a few days ago to testify against her parents, Beckman claimed.

"Veronika was questioned in the Finnish language, even through she does not speak or understand finish well. She was questioned by a female police officer in the absence of a psychologist or a representative of social welfare services. Anastasia watched a video of the questioning and she was shocked. The police officer kept asking the girl whether her mother beat her. Veronika did not understand the question and was at a loss whether to say 'yes' or 'no.' Generally speaking Veronika could not understand what the questioning was about," Beckman quoted Zavgorodnaya as saying.

The head of the child custody agency in Vantaa, Anna Kantel-Forsbum, told the Finnish media that her service was drawing up a statement on the final separation of all the children from Zavgorodnaya, he said.

"Kantel-Forsbum also said on the TV1 Finnish television channel that the problem is in the stupidity of the Russian clients 'who cannot accept complicated information," Backman said.

All four children were separated from Zavgorodnaya in early October, including a five day-old baby, for alleged violence against them. The reason quoted was that Zavgorodnaya's six year-old daughter allegedly complained to her teacher that her father had spanked her.

After the Russian Embassy intervened, Zavgorodnaya was allowed to be near her newborn baby at a child custody center.

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