Accessibility links

Russian Court Reviews Baby Mix-Up Involving Muslim, Christian Parents

  • RFE/RL

The families involved in a baby mix-up (from left to right): Yulia Belyayeva, Irina Andrushchak, Nemat Iskandarov, Anya Iskanderova

The families involved in a baby mix-up (from left to right): Yulia Belyayeva, Irina Andrushchak, Nemat Iskandarov, Anya Iskanderova

A Russian court has begun to review the case of a hospital baby mix-up that led to a Russian Orthodox girl being raised by a Tajik Muslim family, and a Russian family raising a Tajik girl.

The girls were switched in a maternity ward in the town of Kopeisk in the Ural region, where they were born at the same time in December 1998. The two families have been raising the daughters since then.

In the court case, the Russian mother, Yulia Belyaeva, is demanding full access to her biological daughter, saying she is concerned the girl is being raised according to Muslim traditions.

The Tajik father, Nemat Iskandarov, says the two families' different customs and values have become a source of disagreements.

"We don't frequently go to cinema, our children don't [excessively] spend time on the Internet, we don't approve of short skirts, or girls playing with boys," he says. "[Belyaeva] sees it as a problem that our girl doesn’t go to discos, and goes to an aqua park instead, and that she doesn't have a boyfriend at this age."

Both Iskandarov and Belyaeva have told media that the girls would want to remain with the families who have been raising them.

Striking Resemblance

The families found out about the mix-up last year, when Belyaeva's ex-husband refused to pay alimonies, saying their dark-skinned daughter, Anya, looked nothing like him. A subsequent DNA test showed that Anya wasn't related to the parents.

Police traced the family's biological daughter, Irina, who was being brought up by the Tajik family in the same town.

The light-skinned Irina bears striking resemblance to her birth mother, while Anya shares her natural father's dark features.

However, both sets of the parents say that for a long time, it had never occurred to them before that they were raising somebody else's child, despite the girls' skin color.

The families sued their local hospital last year and were awarded financial compensation.

They had initially decided that they would move to houses next to each other and later negotiate their differing traditions and the upbringing of the girls.

The court hearing in Kopeisk will resume in March.

Written by Farangis Najibullah with material from RFE/RL's Tajik Service
XS
SM
MD
LG