Russia demands US release mom convicted of taking her kids
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Russia demands US release mom convicted of taking her kids

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Russia is demanding that the U.S. release a Russian citizen who was convicted of kidnapping for moving her children from the U.S. to Russia amid a divorce.

Bogdana Alexandrovna Osipova, who is referred to by her married name of Mobley in court documents, was convicted in Kansas last month of one count of international parental kidnapping and two counts of attempting to extort money. Ospivoa, 38, faces up to 20 years in prison on each extortion count and up to three years on the kidnapping count at her May 20 sentencing hearing.

The Russian Embassy said in a tweet Friday that U.S. authorities should “stop their lawless behaviour and release the Russian citizen Bogdana Osipova, thus returning the mother to her children.” Her attorney, Craig Divine, didn’t immediately return a phone message. A Russian court has found that the children should remain in Russia.

U.S. prosecutors said Osipova, who has dual Russian and U.S. citizenship, left Wichita, Kansas, in April 2014 with one child from her first marriage and another child from a second marriage to Brian Mobley, an Air Force recruiter. She gave birth to a third child soon after returning to Russia. She was arrested in September 2017 after returning to the U.S. without her children to change child support arrangements.

Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov previously rejected a plea from Kansas Republican Rep. Ron Estes that the younger children — ages 6 and 4 — be reunited with their father. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a briefing that the children are living with relatives in Kaliningrad, The Wichita Eagle reported. Osipova’s oldest child is 16, and her first husband isn’t seeking custody of him.

Antonov told Estes that Osipova has been a victim of “discrimination and psychological pressure” in the U.S. criminal case.

“We’ve attempted to work with Russian authorities to find a diplomatic solution to this situation on behalf of a constituent, but clearly Russia is not interested in adhering to court rulings or acting in good faith,” Estes said Friday in a tweet. “I once again call on Russia to reunite this father with his children and will work with the State Department in solving this case.”

The U.S. State Department didn’t immediately return an email from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday.

Weeks before Osipova left for Russia, Mobley filed for divorce and was granted joint custody. The Russian court system granted the couple a divorce in July 2014. That December, a Kansas judge also granted the couple a divorce and ordered her to return the two youngest children. The Kansas judge awarded sole custody to her ex-husband because Osipova had left the U.S. without court approval or Mobley’s knowledge.

According to the U.S. criminal complaint, Mobley hasn’t been able to see his children. His ex-wife in January 2015 showed up to a meeting in Poland without the children. She allowed him to talk to the children on the phone and on Skype until November 2016, when she said he needed to send money to communicate with them, the complaint said.

Zakharova said the Russian court sees the situation differently.

“Her claim to her ex-husband for alimony, which was supported by a Russian court, was qualified there as extortion,” Zakharova said in the ministry’s translation of a briefing.

Heather Hollingsworth, The Associated Press

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