Russia: The Kachaturyan sisters, from victims to accused

Three young Russian women suffer the patriarchal sexism entrenched in Russian institutions. The stabbed corpse of Mikhail Khachaturyan, 57, was found on the night of July 27, 2018 on the stairs of the 56th house, Altufevskoe Street in Moscow, where the family lived. Sisters Angelina, Maria and Crestina Khachaturyan confessed and were arrested on July 28.

The case could reach the court in August 2019. For the prosecution it is a “group murder in a premeditated conspiracy”. They believe that while the father slept, the three girls wounded him with previously prepared objects.

The defense affirms that the actions were spontaneous, in self-defense, against the father´s aggressions. An examination showed that his last attack was shortly before his death, when he punished the daughters because the house was messy, called them to his room and sprayed their face with pepper gas.

The lawyer Alexey Parshin affirms that, according to the decision of the 2012 plenary session of the Supreme Court: “The article is designed in such a way that it is not necessary for the violence to happen at a particular moment. If a person understands that it will inevitably continue, he or she has the right to defense.” With regard to the Khachaturyan sisters, one can speak of torture that lasted several years. “The violence had a continuous character, it was constantly renewed. Their actions were aimed at breaking this chain.”

Previous life

Mikhail Khachaturyan imposed home rules that his daughters had to follow. It was very violent and unstable, something that was confirmed by neighbors, teachers, the girls’ friends and parents. He threatened his daughters with weapons (an arsenal was found in his apartment). It is not known exactly how he earned a living, it is said that he had links with powerful people.

He started beating his wife when she was 19, pregnant with the first child, whom she bullied and threw out of the house at age 15. Subsequently, he expelled his wife and prohibited her from communicating with her daughters. Although this wild aggressor was reported several times, the police denied it. According to the girls’ mother, her ex-husband had friends in the security force.

Research shows that he began to sexually abuse his daughters shortly after throwing out their mother. While on vacation, one of the sisters tried to commit suicide after being forced by her father to have oral sex. She was rescued by doctors. The girls said that he incited them to have group sex.

They lived like slaves, their father had a bell that rang every time he needed something: bring food, open the window etc. In 2018 Khachaturyan practically did not let them leave their home or go to school. This motivated complaints from teachers but social services did not take the necessary measures, so they are being investigated at the request of lawyers.

Patriarchal sexism

Mikhail Khachaturyan’s nephew became famous for “cleaning” his uncle’s image and threatening the girls. Mikhail’s mother, grandmother of the girls, evicted one of them from the apartment where they had all lived together.

In official press releases, the opinion is transmitted that the sisters are liars and should be condemned. A group of misogynist youths took action demanding the extension of the preventive measure, threatening the girls, those who defend them and the lawyers.

Gender violence

In 2017, President Vládimir Putin signed a law decriminalizing beatings in the family, which is now considered an administrative crime and not a criminal offense. Since the concept of “domestic violence” is not in the legislation, it is impossible to determine the exact number of victims. It is estimated that violence occurs in one out of four Russian families.

In Russia, a law against domestic violence is required. Gender violence lawyer and human rights activist Alena Popova, has been campaigning for its adoption, and has already collected more than 400 thousand signatures. Security orders, program for aggressors, shelter systems, economic and social containment for victims and gender-oriented training are needed at all levels.

#Not one less

The Khachaturyan sisters do not represent the only case in which the victims ended up being accused. In the last two years, more than three thousand women were convicted. On July 3, in Krasnodar, a jury sentenced Kristina Shidukova, 28, for killing her husband, who got drunk and beat her. When Alena Verba’s husband got drunk and beat her, she denounced him, but her alerts were ignored. Finally, he killed her with 20 stabs, leaving her seven-year-old son Nikita by his mother’s body. Margarita Gracheva miraculously survived after her husband cut both of her wrists. Like these, there are many more unfortunate examples.

The negligent and sexist actions of the institutions place women before a cruel dilemma: kill or die at the hands of a man. With cynicism, the president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred to a Human Rights Watch report, stating that the stories of dozens of victims do not represent a general situation. Millions of similar stories are ignored leaving women defenseless.

Solidarity Campaign

Friends and family of the sisters, feminist, social and political groups, including the Russian Socialist Movement, are carrying out a broad, meaningful campaign that continues to gain momentum. Human rights activists, psychologists, bloggers and celebrities, such as the singer of the System of a Down group, Serge Tankian, have taken the cause as their own. In the «Teatro.doc» in Moscow there were readings about the violence suffered by the sisters.

On July 5, a feminist poetic evening was held and solidarity letters were written. In Moscow and other cities, individual and group protests are held almost every day. On July 24, there were actions in 21 cities around the world, including: New York, Berlin, Helsinki, Barcelona, ​​Toronto, London and Munich, because “an injury to one, is an injury to all”. Already more than 220 thousand people have signed a petition to the head of the Research Committee demanding to stop the prosecution.

We have “an injury to one, is an injury to all” engraved in fire. For that reason, organizations of different countries that make up the International Socialist League have joined the campaign. We spread the #FREEKHACHATURYANSISTER demand on websities, social networks and take pictures in support of the sisters. We also held an informative action in the Plaza Sant Jaume in Barcelona. We call to extend the campaign for: Free the Khachaturyan sisters! Adoption of the law against gender violence in Russia! Let’s keep fighting until patriarchy and capitalism fall together.

SOL – Spanish State