Police Illegally Take Children From Journalist

A Russian journalist and activist in the industrial town of Tolyatti had her children taken from her by police without explanation on Tuesday the Forum.msk news site reports. It looks to be the latest of such cases where the confiscation of children by the police has been used to threaten or intimidate activists and oppositionists in Russia.

An article by the journalist, Galina Dmitrieva, had been published two days prior describing the situation in the AvtoVAZ automobile manufacturing plant. Then, on Tuesday at 1:30 pm, local police came to her home and said that since her children were living in unsanitary conditions, it was possible that they could be taken away.

While it was unclear what the police found to be objectionable in the article, it was certainly an issue of contention. Yury Korotkov, a fellow journalist working with Dmitrieva to cover problems in the AvtoVAZ plant, was with his colleague when the police visited her home. According to the news site, one officer took Korotkov aside and said directly: “Don’t mess with AvtoVAZ!”

The police told Dmitrieva that she should come to a local police department at 2:00 pm for a discussion to prevent her children from being taken away, but then demanded that the journalist hand over her childrens’ identity documents. And at 2:20 pm, a different set of police officers than those who originally visited Dmitrieva took away her children, three-year-old Nikita and six-year-old Alexandra. They gave no explanation whatsoever, not even the supposed sanitation issue.

Dmitrieva herself was also detained, without charge and with no explanation, for almost four hours, and according to reports on Wednesday is being continually denied access to her children.

Dmitrieva’s case is not the first in which police have taken children into custody as a means to pressure Russians who have been deemed undesireable to the state. Yevgeny Ivanov, leader of a trade union of General Motors workers in Russia, has been threatened by child custody services that his parental rights could be revoked. In the city of Dzerzhinsk, the local government attempted to take away the children of opposition activist Sergei Pchelintsev. Such tactics have even been used to threaten people who haven’t paid back debts owed to the state.