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Russian mother sentenced to 7 years for 'kidnapping' own child from 'abusive' US husband

Russian mother sentenced to 7 years for 'kidnapping' own child from 'abusive' US husband
Russian diplomats have vowed to defend a mother of three sentenced by a US judge to seven years in prison. The Russian-born woman left the US to take her one-year-old daughter away from her allegedly abusive American husband.

Bogdana Osipova's lingering custody battle with her former husband Brian Mobley, a US Air Force recruiter in Wichita, Kansas, ended up with her being sentenced to 84 months in federal prison on Thursday. She has already spent a year and a half in custody. A jury found Osipova guilty of one count of kidnapping and two counts of attempting to extort money from Mobley. 

Osipova claimed that she was escaping domestic abuse when she took her then-one-year-old daughter Sofia, as well as her son from a previous marriage, and returned to Russia in 2014. Osipova was pregnant at the time, and gave birth to her third child, Isabella, shortly after arriving in Russia.

Mobley filed for divorce and initially was awarded joint custody with Osipova over their children. But Osipova remained in Russia with the children, and the court eventually granted Mobley full custody. 

A court in Russia, meanwhile, ruled in the mother's favor in 2015. 

Osipova travelled to the US in September 2017, hoping to settle the matter with Mobley in an American court, but was arrested by the FBI. She has been behind bars since, separated from her children, who remain in Russia in her aunt's care.

Osipova says she had suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, but the judge dismissed the claim, saying it wasn't backed up by evidence.

Russian diplomats have condemned the sentence and vowed to challenge it. The Russian consulate general in Houston, Texas called Osipova's incarceration "yet another violation of a Russian citizen's rights by the US authorities." The woman was "de-facto sentenced to seven years for asking her former husband to pay alimony" in an "unfair and inhumane" ruling, it added.

The US Department of Justice claimed in a statement that Osipova had told Mobley that "he needed to send her money in order to see the child."

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In April, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called Osipova a victim of "cruel and overt blackmail" by the US justice system. "They want to trade her children for her freedom," Zakharova said. The "extortion" Osipova was found guilty of was in fact a legitimate claim to alimony supported by a Russian court, she said.

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