Russia protests: Moscow couples can keep children - court

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Media caption,

Russian couple worried about losing their children after footage of their baby was posted online

Courts in Russia have rejected prosecutors' request to strip two couples of parental rights after they took their children to protest rallies.

Instead, Dmitry and Olga Prokazov, and Petr and Elena Khomskikh were warned.

The prosecutors argued that the two couples had endangered their children's life by bringing them to recent protests in the capital Moscow.

The move had caused outrage in Russia, where a number of people face jail terms for taking part in the rallies.

The rallies - some of them unauthorised - have been held regularly since July against the exclusion of most opposition candidates in Moscow's Duma (city parliament) elections scheduled for 8 September.

Thousands of people have been detained, and riot police have been accused of a brutal crackdown on demonstrators.

What about the courts' rulings?

On Monday, the verdicts were issued by Moscow courts in what were two separate cases.

Image caption,
Olga and Dmitry Prokazov said that while he and his wife sympathised with the protest they were simply out for a walk

Both the Khomskikh and the Prokazov couples received a formal warning.

The courts also said they may still lose custody of their children if they went anywhere near opposition protests.

Defence lawyers for each of the two families said they would appeal against the rulings.

What were the prosecutors' arguments?

In the high-profile Prokazov case, the prosecutors had argued that during an unauthorised rally on 27 July "the parents handed their young child, who was in a helpless state due to his age, to a third person thus endangering the boy's health and life".

"And so by exploiting the child, the parents abused their parental rights to the detriment of their son's interests," the prosecutors said in a statement last month.

They also said the child's father had temporary residence in Moscow and therefore did not have a vote in the elections.

Media caption,

Police marched away detainees on the 27 July protest

Dmitry and Olga Prokazov said they had simply been out for a walk when they came upon the protesters.

They said they had seen their friend Sergey Fomin among a group of protesters and suggested that he leave with them. He agreed and at some point Dmitry gave Sergey the baby to hold.

He described Sergey as his best friend, and said he was his wife's cousin and godfather to his eldest son.

Investigators say that Sergey Fomin - who is being sought by police for taking part in the protests - took someone else's child as a way to get through police encirclement of the demonstrators.

The Khomskikh case has not received such public attention, and the details emerged much later.

The prosecutors argued that during a protest on 3 August the lives of their two young daughters had been endangered because they were "in close proximity to a large number of aggressively-minded demonstrators".

The couple denied this.