The high-profile case of two sisters accused of killing their father in Moscow in 2018 will be tried by jury, a procedure allowed under Russian law in the case of serious crimes, a Moscow court announced on August 3.
The Moscow City Court ruled that the selection of the jury for the trial of Krestina and Angelina Khachaturyan will start on August 31.
The court also rejected the defense's request to send the case back to prosecutors, and extended pretrial restrictions for the two sisters by another six months.
The restrictions include a ban on Internet use, communication with each other and other participants in the case, and speaking to the media. The court also backed the prosecution's demand to ban the sisters from taking part in public events.
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.
Material 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, 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, 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 let free.
But earlier in July, according to the defense team, Grin confirmed the original murder charges in an apparent volte-face, meaning the case will almost certainly go to trial.
Maria Khachaturyan, who was 17 when the alleged crime took place, is set to be tried separately. A medical evaluation following the killing found her mentally unsound at the time of the crime, and she was recommended for psychological treatment.