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Russia, France share concern over child custody battles

© RIA Novosti . Grigoriy Sysoev / Go to the photo bankPavel Astakhov
Pavel Astakhov - Sputnik International
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Russia and France are both concerned by the numerous and ongoing custody battles over mixed nationality children, the Russian children's ombudsman said.

Russia and France are both concerned by the numerous and ongoing custody battles over mixed nationality children, the Russian children's ombudsman said.

"We are not the only ones worried about children whose parents believe they have been wronged by the French justice system. The Ministry of Justice has given me a list of 44 cases which concern the French side and children who are being held in Russia," Pavel Astakhov said.

Custody battles for children born into Russian-French families can last for years. Russian actress Natalya Zakharova has not seen her daughter Masha for 11 years since she divorced her husband Patrick Huari.

Natalya left France after she was sentenced to three years for an arson attack on her ex-husband's apartment her daughter now lives with foster parents.

Another Russian national Irina Belenkaya, is embroiled in a custody battle with her estranged French husband over their daughter. The parents have stolen the girl away from each other three times.

The French court granted custody rights to Belenkaya's ex-husband in June 2009 and allows her to see her daughter Elise Andre three times a month.

Astakhov said earlier that Russia and France would sign an agreement by the end of the year on setting up a commission to solve issues surrounding Russian-French adoption, but the deadline has now been postponed.

"We hoped we would be able to sign the agreement this year. The French side is in favor of adopting an intergovernmental agreement to support civil and family cases, but that would need to be approved by the European Commission, which would take about a year," he said.

Russia is drafting similar bilateral agreements on child adoption with Spain, Britain, Ireland, Israel and the United States. The first such agreement was signed with Italy in November 2008 and entered into force in November 2009.

MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti)

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