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4 May, 2009 12:02

Kidnapped girl’s parents to resolve custody feud

Elise Andre parents’ lawyers have prepared an amicable agreement between the parties. The document was worked out on Monday and will be signed soon.

”Since Irina Belenkaya (Elise’s mother) is now in custody, we have certain difficulties in according this document with her. On May 6, I will go to Budapest, in order to adjust the agreement with Irina. The same document will be offered to Jean-Michel Andre (Elise’s father),” explained Anatoly Kucherena, the head of Public Chamber’s Committee for controlling activities of law-enforcement bodies and reforming juridical system in Russia.

Little Elise was thrust into the headlines after she was repeatedly snatched back-and-forth in a tug-of-war between her Russian mother and French father. Her name is Lisa if you ask her mom and Elise if you ask her dad. She is three and a half years old and has already been kidnapped three times.

Her father has been beaten up and her mother has been arrested in Hungary. The cause of all this drama is her parents' battle over her.

“Her small universe has been seriously shattered during these three weeks. To ask several times the same question about who loves whom, she is at that age where it is better that the people who love her would be able to love each other,” the girl’s father Jean Michelle Andre said.

It all started when her parents' Irina Belenkaya and Jean Michelle Andre divorced. Jean Michelle claims Irina left for her native Russia and took their daughter with her without telling him.

He then went to Moscow and took her back. In March, Irina was arrested in Hungary trying to cross the border to Ukraine with Lisa. She argues that Andre kept her from her child and that Lisa is hers.

A Russian court has awarded her custody, but a French court said that she should stay with her father. Thankfully, a solution has appeared on the horizon. Both parents now decided that a shared custody agreement is best for all concerned, especially for the little girl.

“Neither Russian nor Hungarian nor French law can justly settle the issue until the girl’s parents comes to an agreement. An agreement over who the girl will stay with and other associated issues,” explained Anatoly Kucherena.

The attorneys from both sides are coming to Moscow to try and work out the details but the key will be resolving their personal conflict. The lawyer for the father’s side concurs with his Russian counterpart:

“First of all it's the law. Then it's a matter of diplomacy and finally it's a matter of good will. It's an extremely complex matter, but we have to find a solution,” he said.

Irina is awaiting extradition to France for being accused under French law of kidnapping the child and organizing for two men to brutally attack her ex-husband in March.

She denies the accusations, yet she seems to be coming around to the idea of shared custody.

“We are satisfied with that as we hope this time will be enough for the French authorities to look better into the case and for what is this man's conscious to finally wake up. Of course, if he is not a maniac," Belenkaya noted.

Russian lawyers along with their French counterparts met in Moscow on Monday where they found a solution, which, they claim, is in the best interest of the child in this case which, at the heart of it, is a matter of love – not law.

Lisa is currently staying with her father's friends in France.