Human rights activist reports new case of children taken away from Russian mother in Finland [updated]

Finnish authorities have taken away two children from Russian citizen Svetlana Karelina. The children came to Finland with a two-month tourist visa in late November to visit their father, according to Finnish human rights activist Johan Backman.

"Finnish authorities took away six-year-old twins Artyom and Sonya Karelin from a Petrozavodsk children's doctor when the children were visiting Finland," he said.

"The children have only Russian citizenship. The Petrozavodsk City Court put them into custody of their mother who lives in Russia after her divorce. The mother has no information about her children," Backman said.

"There is information that the Finnish system of juvenile justice has once again decided to isolate children from a Russian mother and "de-Russify" them, i.e. keep the children away from Russia, the Russian language, Russian culture and the Russian mother," he said.

The possible reason is that "the father, Ingrian Sergei Timonen, has agreed to de-Russify his children and isolate them from Russia," the activist said.

"Ingermanland immigrants in Finland frequently become Russophobes. Besides, Svetlana Karelia's former husband does not work and lives on allowance. The allowance might have been guaranteed to him in exchange for his refusal of Russia and for de-Russification of the children," Backman said.

He did not rule out that the fact of Russian residence of the mother and children "was already viewed in Finland as a serious threat of ' abduction' of the children, which meant the children would never be able to communicate normally with their mother again."

"Probably, in a couple of years the children will be permitted to meet with their mother but, same as in the case of Rimma Salonen, only under surveillance and prohibited from speaking their native Russian language," the activist said.

In his opinion, "Finland wages a quiet undeclared war on Russian children and mothers. The Russian Mothers international public movement said that Artyom and Sonya were the 52nd and 53rd children taken away from their parents."

"Finnish authorities bluntly refuse to negotiate children and family affairs with Russia and to set up a bilateral agency for settling the problem," Backman said.

"The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has been criticizing Finland for years for systemic violations of children's rights but there is no reaction," he said.

There has been a string of scandals with Russian children taken away from their mothers in Finland. Four children, including a newborn, were taken away from Anastasia Zavgorodnaya and two from Albina Kasatkina.

There have been similar cases before. The Russian Mothers movement told Interfax that 36 Russian-Finnish families deprived of 51 children asked the Russian Embassy for help in 2012.

Meanwhile, Russian presidential children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov has sharply criticized the seizure of children from Svetlana Karelina.

Astakhov called the seizure of the children from Karelina "an outrageous event" on Twitter on Wednesday.

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