Jury selection in the high-profile trial of two sisters, Krestina and Angelina Khachaturyan, who along with their youngest sister are accused of killing their father in Moscow in 2018, has been postponed until October 5.
Lawyers for the two sisters said on August 31, the day the selection process was scheduled to begin, that the proceedings were postponed after some of the plaintiffs who had expressed a willingness to take part in the selection process were unable to do so after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The Moscow City court ruled on August 3 that the two sisters will be tried by jury, a procedure allowed under the Russian legislation in the case of serious crimes.
Investigators say that in July 2018, Krestina, Angelina, and a third sister, Maria Khachaturyan -- then 19, 18, and 17 years old, respectively -- killed their father, Mikhail Khachaturyan, at their home on the outskirts of Moscow.
Materials gathered by investigators included substantial evidence of regular sexual and physical abuse by Khachaturyan against his daughters.
The case has attracted widespread attention from the Russian media and civil society and has pitted defenders of conservative values, backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, against women's rights activists who have been calling for the introduction of legislation on domestic violence as a way to bring alleged perpetrators like Khachaturyan to justice and enable their victims to plead self-defense.
In early December 2019, investigators finalized their indictment against the three sisters and sent it to the prosecutor's office to prepare for trial. Krestina, Angelina, and Maria had acted with premeditation, it concluded, governed by “a strong personal enmity toward their father” due to continued physical and sexual abuse.
Later in December 2019, Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Grin cited flaws in the investigation and asked officials to reclassify the sisters’ actions as self-defense, which would pave the way for the women to be set free.
But earlier in July 2019, according to the defense team, Grin confirmed the original murder charges, meaning the case will almost certainly go to trial.
Maria Khachaturyan, who was 17 when the alleged crime took place, is being tried separately. A medical evaluation following the killing found her mentally unsound at the time of the crime, and it was recommended she undergo psychological treatment.
Her trial began behind closed doors at Moscow's Butyrsky district court on August 10.