Russian court rules 'abducted' children to return to UK

Rachael Neustadt's ex-husband took the boys on holiday last December but refused to bring them back

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A north London mother has won a landmark ruling to get her children back from Russia after they were abducted by their father.

Rachael Neustadt, from Hendon, says Ilya Neustadt took their two sons on holiday in December but never returned.

Moscow City Court ruled that Daniel and Jonathan had been illegally kept in Russia in breach of a UK High Court order.

Mrs Neustadt said she was delighted by the ruling.

Missing persons

The court said that five-year-old Jonathan and seven-year-old Daniel should be flown back to London.

Mrs Neustadt, a former teacher from the US, claims that Mr Neustadt, who was a lecturer at London Metropolitan University, ignored repeated requests from judges in England to return their sons.

Interpol also issued missing persons notices for the boys.

The case is the first to successfully use the 1996 Hague Convention on child abduction in England and Russia, which Russia ratified in June and the UK signed last year.

In September, the Russian court told Mr Neustadt to return the two children. He appealed against the decision and lost on Wednesday.

Mrs Neustadt said she had campaigned for the last 11 months to bring her sons home.

"I think that day my heart started racing and it hasn't stopped," she said.

Start Quote

Every day I think what can I do to bring them back.”

End Quote Rachael Neustadt

"Every day I think what can I do to bring them back.

"They liked everything and there's nothing that tells me that why just because they've been given a passport that they are Russians that belong in Russia."

The boys' maternal grandmother, Merry Rapp, has been helping care for the youngest son two-year-old Meir, while Mrs Neustadt fights her legal battle.

"It is very confusing for them," she said.

"They have been told so much that is totally wrong. For example, that your mother no longer loves you. How do you say that and not damage a child? It's not right."

'Hidden problem'

The charity Reunite International, which supports parents, said child abduction was a hidden problem. The group said that its helpline received 8,112 calls last year and the numbers were increasing.

Joanne Orton, the advice line co-ordinator, said: "We had 506 new parental abduction cases reported to us which involved 728 children. We also had 412 new prevention cases involving a further 586 children.

"Travel is easier and cheaper than ever leading to more mixed nationality partnerships than ever.

"Where a relationship has formed with one or both parents originating from a different country to the one they have settled in, if that relationship then breaks down, very often one parent will want to return to the comfort of their family in their native country."

She added that 70% of abductions were carried out by the mother.

"The saddest fact is, that when a child is abducted whilst both parents suffer as a result, ultimately the one person that suffers the most is the child," she said.

Mr Neustadt has said he may appeal against the latest ruling.

He said: "We will finally reach some amicable solution based on compromises and not on possible actions that would be completely against the children's best interests."

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