Monthly Archives: April 2012

You’re making a difference – thank you

At the request of the family, the authors of this blog wish to convey the deepest appreciation for all of the support received in recent weeks.  There is hope. And good reason for it: you.

As just one recent example, dozens of letters were sent to Russia’s Commissioner of Children’s Rights Pavel Astakhov (Павел Астахов) this week, requesting his attention to the condition of Marianne Grin and the abducted children.

We will report later on the success (or not) of these and other efforts to make Russian authorities aware of the immediate danger Grin poses.

The family is also grateful for the many people who have reached out to them directly in this time to offer their support, with kindness of soul and generosity of heart.  Every word of encouragement has been been read, re-read, and circulated among family members and with close friends who are helping.  It really has made a difference.  With so many good people in the same corner and working towards a positive outcome,  it is only a question of time before the children are returned home.

Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь): No Psych Exam yet in Russia

A question many have recently asked:  how is it possible that Russian authorities did not conduct a psychiatric evaluation of Grin immediately after her arrival in Russia? Have they done one since?

A need for a psychiatric assessment but no ability to require one

Several people have pointed out what should have been obvious to Russian authorities: that Grin arrived in the country as a result of a court-appointed psychological assessment in Italy that found her to be suffering from “paranoid delusions” and to represent a danger to her children, exhibiting “bizarre” behavior when they were in her care.

Also, unlike others who abduct children to Russia, Grin lacked any family ties in the country or close friends to rely upon there. In fact, she had in recent years severed relationships with all immediate family, most of her friends in the US and Italy, and the Jewish Community of Florence.

The Danger Signs Continue to Mount in Russia

And, perhaps most disturbingly, Grin has shown she will engage in dangerous and reckless behavior in Russia, including:

  • seeking broad publicity for false accusations that could easily be disproved (which occurred in March, the first time a Russian journalist attempted to verify her claims);
  • showing cruelty towards her own children by keeping them in isolation from family and friends (also in violation of Russian law), and her abandonment of them for several months to Chabad-run orphanages;
  • lying to authorities about the place where the children were living, taking them out of the orphanages for part of a day when called by Russian social services, pretending to live in an apartment belonging to the family of a wealthy Russian friend, Vladimir Klimovitsky, on Nevsky Prospect;
  • making bizarre public declarations in recent week railing against the Russian judge and Russian justice; and
  • allegedly engaging in serious criminal conduct: as the Fontanka (St. Petersburg) newspaper recently reported, Grin may have committed insurance fraud in Russia, procurring thousands of dollars from her insurer for services that were never rendered (by a non-existent psychiatrist) in St. Petersburg.

The common question is, what have the Russian authorities done to check on Grin’s mental state and capacity to care for the children?  Even if she did not have four children in her care, her self-destructive, deceptive, anti-social behavior would shout for a detailed psychiatric evaluation.

Russian Psych Exam not Possible… Yet…

By all indications, Russian authorities and even the institutions that have dealt directly with Grin are not oblivious to her problems. In varying degrees, they appear to acknowledge that her behavior is extreme and cause for concern. The fact does not appear to be in doubt.  The question is what can be done about it.

Unfortunately, as authorities have explained, under Russian law a psychiatric examination is not possible without Grin’s consent.  Not only has Grin refused to submit to one, she has fiercely opposed even psychological counseling that the Chabad-run institutions recommended for the children while in their care, to reduce the stress Grin’s actions were creating for them.

The only way to force a psych exam in Russia is to request it in connection with a court proceeding, for example for the determination of the domicile of children or termination of parental rights.  But because the Russian court has now rejected Grin’s application, there is no pending proceeding there in which to request a psychiatric evaluation.  As a result, between now and when the children are returned to Italy, they remain at risk under the care of their mother, whose mental state and ability to care for them apparently cannot be assessed or verified in Russia.

Which takes us to the silver lining of an appeal.  It is expected that Grin will appeal the April 12, 2012 decision rejecting her application in Russia.  Should the court overturn the April 12 decision, it should then be possible to request in Russia a psychiatric exam and an evaluation of the entire family, including Grin’s bizarre conduct in recent months, and her isolation of the children for such a long time.

Court Rejects Bad-Faith Forum Shopping: Russian Parents Living Abroad Are the Winners

UPDATE: JUNE 2012 . The St. Petersburg Court of Appeals (City Court) overturned the ruling of the court of first instance. The Court ordered the case could proceed in Russia until there is a final ruling in the Italian court case in which Grin continues to participate. The order relies on a January 2012 decision of the same appellate court, stating that interim orders of the Italian court cannot be enforced in Russia under a treaty with Italy, only the final decision.

UPDATE:  JANUARY 2013.  The St. Petersburg Court of Appeals, ignoring its prior rulings on the same subject, ruled that the final decision of the Italian court (rendered in September 2012) cannot be enforced in Russia under the country’s treaty with Italy. The court cited the children’s Russian citizenship and unspecified conflicts with Russian law, essentially ruling that foreign decisions cannot be enforced in Russia even when the Russian party voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the foreign court and continues to participate in identical proceedings in both countries. 

As the Tashalaw blog explains, there may be at heart nationalistic or at least Russian interests behind the decision rejecting Grin’s attempt to forum shop by litigating the same issues in two different courts.

“International abduction cases are relatively rare, as they involve illegal conduct of the abducting parent. Thus, for every foreign parent who is unable to secure the return of a child because of the nationalistic reputation of Russian courts, there are many more law-abiding Russians who are divorcing in foreign countries and who suffer as a consequence.

Tashalaw, Nationalism and International Child Abduction: Russian Court Rejects Forum Shopping, “Given the absence of an effective means to secure the return, foreign courts will often prevent Russian parents from taking a child to visit their grandparents. Thus, the Grin decision actually helps Russian parents living abroad, as they may cite it as evidence that a foreign decree regarding children will be honoured.”

See also Dmitry Litvinski, Competing Jurisdictions, St Petersburg court recognizes priority of Italian proceedings, private international law in action, Коллизия юрисдикций: Петербургский суд признал приоритет итальянского коллеги. Международное частное право в действии

Stranger than strange

English (Italiano Sotto)

As reported here yesterday, after losing her request in Russian courts, Marianne Grin loudly and publicly condemned the Russian judge and the Russian legal system. Her unsettling behavior, and history of psychological problems, has triggered letters of deep concern to Russian authorities from around the world. She continues to illegally (under Russian domestic law) deny the father, family, and friends any contact with the children. And the result?

An announcement yesterday by Russia’s presidential commissioner for children, Pavel Astakhov, that he will hold a press conference on behalf of “Russian mothers” and will include Grin.

Without, of course, ever having spoken with the father or any Italian authority to verify a word of what Grin alleges.

And perhaps without checking legal commentary already appearing about the decision that applauds it for demonstrating the soundness and independence of the Russian judiciary.

Clear evidence of danger to the children

Moreover, as indicated yesterday, the cause for concern about Grin increases. The children were removed from the Chabad orphanages on March 30 after the Russian media exposed what Grin had done, and have not returned or attended any school since. Subsequent media attention indicates she used an apartment on Nevsky Prospekt inhabited by the family of a Russian businessman, Vladimir Klimovitsky, to defraud Russian social services on living conditions of the children.

Grin has issued statements claiming that on April 9 she and the children were “being held hostage” by the father, comparing their conditions to “the Leningrad Siege” and stating that he was “posing as an American secret agent,” and announcing the decision of the Russian judge will be followed by “NATO bombings of Russian homes.” (The father was not even in Russia on April 9.)

So far no Russian authorities have accepted Grin’s delusions as reality.

Is Astakhov really looking to help children?



Come è stato riportato ieri, dopo aver perso la sua richiesta di affidamento ai tribunali russi, Marianne Grin ha condanato publicamente il giudice russo e il sistema legale russo. Il suo comportamento strano, con la storia dei suoi problemi psichiatrici, ha scattenato lettere di forte preocupazione alle autorità russe mandate da tutto il mondo. Continua a negare ai bambini contatto con il padre, famiglie e amici (che è illegale sotto la legge Russa). Ed il risultato?

Un annuncio ieri dal rappresentante ufficiale per bambini sotto il governo Putin, Pavel Astakhov, che terrà una conferenza stampa rappresentando “Madri Russe” e includerà la Signora Grin.

Tutto questo, certo, senza aver parlato con il padre o qualsiasi autorità italiana per verificare quello che dice la Signora Grin.

E forse, senza aver controllato i commenti sulla legge che già appaiono riguarda questa decisione che applaudano il giudice russo per aver dimostrato nella sua decisione una concretezza e indipendenza di un tribunale russo.

Chiara testimonianza di pericolo ai bambini

Per di più, come è stato indicato ieri, la causa per la preocupazione riguarda la Signora Grin cresce. I bambini sono stati tolti dagli istituti/orfanotrofi Chabad il 20 marzo dopo che la stampa russa ha svelato quello che Grin aveva fatto, e non hanno ancora riportato I bambini a scuola li’ o in qualsiasi altro posto da allora. Altri giornali russi hanno svelato che ha usato un appartmento su Nevsky Prospekt dove abitava la famiglia di Vladimir Klimovitsky, un imprenditore russo, e ha usato questo appartmento per truffare i servizi sociali russi sulla residenza dei bambini.

La signoria Grin aveva dimostrato dichiarazioni che sostengono che il 9 aprie lei e I bambini erano “in ostaggio” dal padre, e ha fatto il paragone alle condizioni come “L’assedio di Leningrad” dove sosteneva che il padre stava “posando come un agente segreto degli USA” e ha poi annunciato che dopo questa decisione del giudice sara’ seguito da “bombe di NATO sulle nostre case russe.” (Il padre, non è stato in Russia il 9 aprile).

Ad oggi nessuna autorità russa ha accetato i deliri di Signora Grin come la realtà.

Sta cercando veramente di aiutare questi bambini, Pavel Astakhov?

Cautious optimism coupled with serious concerns after Russian court ruling

English (Italiano sotto)

Cautious optimism coupled with serious concerns after Russian court ruling

As recently reported in the Russian media, the St. Petersburg court on April 12, 2012, rejected Marianne Grin’s application to revoke the father’s parental rights and to have the children domiciled with her in Russia. The court determined that the children’s domicile was being determined by the Italian courts, and that Grin could not forum shop in Russia.

For legal commentary on the decision, see also Дмитрий Литвинский (Dimitry Litvinsky),
Расторжение смешанных браков (Dissolution of Marriages) 

Cautious Optimism while the Children’s Isolation Continues

The children’s family is being cautious about the decision, which remains subject to appeal. The court’s judgment does not order the return of the children to Italy, and the father has still not seen them. Although the consequence of the decision is that, within Russia, both parents continue to have equal rights to see and participate in the children’s lives, Grin continues to illegally prevent any contact between them and their father, their family, and friends.

The father is working with domestic Russian authorities to find a way to calmly bring the children out of their isolation, while also ensuring their safety given the concerns now being raised.

Serious Concerns

In recent weeks there have been signs that Grin’s hold on reality is rapidly declining. In the days just prior to the ruling, articles appeared on the web claiming that on April 9 “Grin and her children were being held hostage” by the father, comparing their conditions to “the Leningrad Siege” and stating that he was “posing as an American secret agent.” In addition to the fantastical hyperbole – the father has not seen the children since August 2011 – the father was not even in Russia on April 9.

One has to ask how it is even possible to pose as a secret agent? It would be cause for humor, except that following the court’s ruling, Grin’s declarations took on even darker tones. She published statements, including on the official government website maintained by the children’s Ombuds for the St. Petersburg region, saying that the judge who issued the decision should be “ashamed”, and predicting that the result would be “NATO bombings of Russian homes.” She has republished this statement on various Russian blogs.

Custody Services Fraud – the Klimovitsky Apartment on Nevsky Prospekt

Adding to concerns is the additional news, reported in the Russian press, that Grin committed fraud against Russian social services regarding the children’s living conditions.

According to the above Fontanka article, several witnesses confirmed that Grin was keeping the children in the orphanages/institutions operated by Chabad-Lubavitch and “taking them to an apartment on Nevsky” only on days when there were to be inspections by Custody Services. These are the social services authorities responsible for determining their well-being.

The apartment Grin listed as her residence was “Nevsky Prospect 72”, a luxury apartment in the city center, and she provided a phone number at the apartment, which belongs to Vladimir Klimovitsky.

According to information on the internet, Klimovitsky is the owner of St. Petersburg company, Colortek, which produces ink and toner for photocopy machines. Family and friends of the children have written to Klimovitsky, including at Colortek offices (e-mail:, asking his help in contacting the children, but he has refused to answer.

The relationship between Klimovitsky and Grin is not known, nor why he would aid Grin’s fraud by allowing his apartment to be used merely to defraud social services, so that she could conceal from authorities that she had placed the children in orphanages.

Cautious optimism, but reasons to be deeply concerned.


Cauto ottimismo e forte preocupazione dopo la decisione del tribunale russo

Come è stato riportato nella stampa Russa, il tribunale di San Pietroburgo, il 12 aprile 2012, ha respinto la domanda di Marianne Grin di togliere la podestà genitoriale al padre e di avere il domicilio con lei in Russia. Il tribunale ha determinato che il domicilio dei bambini deve essere deciso dal tribunale italiano, e che la Signora Grin non può neanche manipulare il tribunale ad avere un giudice che secondo lei sarebbe più a suo favore.

Per opinione legale su questa decisione, vedi anche

Дмитрий Литвинский (Адвокат, Париж),
Расторжение смешанных браков (Dmitry Litvinsky, Dissolution of Marriages)

Cauto ottimismo mentre l’isolazione dei bambini continua

La famiglia dei bambini è molto cauta ora rigurda questa decisione, che rimane anche aperta per un eventuale appello. Il giudizio del tribunale non obliga il ritorno ai bambini in Italia, e il padre non li ha ancora visti mentre in Russia. Però, la conseguenza della decisione del giudice è che, dentro il territorio russo, entrambi I genitori hanno diritti eguali per vedere e partecipare alle vite dei bambini, la Signora Grin continua a illegalmente prevenire qualsiasi contato fra loro e il loro padre, famiglia e amici.

Il padre sta lavorando con le autorità russe domestici per trovare un modo di portare I bambini fuori il loro isolamento in modo non intrusivo, mentre assicurano anche la loro sicurezza considerando le preocupazioni che hanno tutti ora.

Forte preoccupazioni

Nelle ultime settimane ci sono stati segni che la Signora Grin ha un senso della realtà che sta rapidamente calando. Nei giorni precedenti alle decisioni del giudice, articoli sono aparsi in internet dicendo che il 9 aprile “Grin e I suoi bambini erano in ostaggio” dal padre, paragonando le loro condizioni all’ “Assedio di Leningrad” e dichiaravano che lui “stava posando come un agente dei servizi segreti USA”. Pero’, il padre non vede i suoi bambini da Agosto 2011 e non era in Russia il 9 aprile.

Uno deve chiedere come è possibile posare come un agente dei servizi segreti?  Sembrerebbe comico, solo che a seguito della decisione del giudice, le dichiarazioni della Signora Grin sono diventati ancora più scuri. Ha publicato dichiarazioni, alcuni sul sito internet ufficiale del governo del “Ombuds” per bambini di San Pietroburgo, dichiarando che il giudice di questa recente decisione deve “vergognarsi” e ha previsto che come reazione alla sua decisione ci saranno “bombe di NATO di case russe”. La Signora Grin ha addiritura publicato questa frase su varii blog russi dopo

Truffa dei servizi sociali  – l’appartmento della famiglia Klimovitsky su Nevsky Prospekt

Preocupazioni in più, riportati nella stampa russa, che la Signora Grin ha truffato i servizi sociali russi riguarda le condizioni domiciliary dei bambini.

Secondo l’articolo di Fontanka sopra, molti testimoni hanno confermato che la Signora Grin stava tendendo i bambini nei orfanotrofi/istituzioni operati da Chabad-Lubavitch e “li porta ad un appartamento su Nevsky” solo durante giorni in cui si sono ispezioni dei servici sociali. Questi sono le autorità dei servizi sociai responsabili per la sicurezza dei bambini.

L’appartamento della Signora Grin elencato come residenza era “Nevsky Prospect 72”, un appartmanento di lusso nel centro della città, e ha dato il numero di telefono dell’appartamento, che aveva come proprietà Vladimir Klimovitsky.

Secondo le informazioni in internet, il Signor Klimovistky è il proprietario della compagnia a San Pietroburgo, Colortek, che produce inchiostro e toner per le stampanti. Famiglia e amici dei bambini hanno scritto a Signor Klimovitsky, e hanno copiato anche l’indirizzo email di lavoro (e-mail:, chiedendo aiuto da lui a contattare i bambini, ma fin’ora ha rifiutato di rispondere.

Il rapporto fra Signor Klimovitsky e la Signora Grin non è chiaro, neanche perché lui darebbe aiuto alla Signora Grin e il suo truffare ai servizi sociali e permette l’uso del suo appartmento cosi’ Grin potrebbe nascondere dalle autorità il fatto che ha lasciato i bambini in orfanotrofi.

Cauto ottimismo, pero’ motivi per essere seriamente preoccupati.

Mellersh Family Letter of Concern to Russian Ombuds for Children, Pavel Astakhov

Links in the letter:

Inessa Grin Statement:инесса-грин-бабушка-отчаянный

Links to reports of the Grin case:

In the United States:

In Italy:

In Britain:

In Russia:

How to Help – Post Messages to Sara, 9 Year Old Sailor, Scuba Diver

Sara had just turned 9 years old the month before she was abducted and taken away from her family, friends, and life in Italy.

In the weeks before her abduction, Sara was at the seaside of Calabria with her father, taking a course on sailing and scuba diving.  She spent a week on a sailboat with her brother, Ezra. And she was in the process of earning her next level of sailing certification. Sara – certificato scuola vela 2011

It was the third summer in a row that she was learning how to sail, snorkel, scuba dive, and how to tie nautical knots. She had become an avid sailor and loved being in the water, and with her father had learned at the age of 7 to snorkel to depths of 6 meters (20 feet) without difficulty.

Sara was also helping her little brother learn to sail, just as she had helped him learn to ski during the family’s winter vacation in the Dolomites months before.

Sara has many many dear friends in Italy, especially at Carducci elementary school, who cannot wait to have her home.

Sara is especially close to her little cousin, Zoe, who absolutely adores Sara and cannot wait to see her again!

Zoe lives with Sara’s aunt and uncle in Pistoia, which is close to Florence, and Sara often stayed with them so she could be close to her little cousin.

In fact, Sara has been close to Zoe since the day she was born.  Zoe is now two and a half years old, but she has not forgotten her older cousin. Everytime Zoe sees a pink bicycle, like the one Sara used to ride in Florence, she shouts “a-Sara!”

Sara is also a writer.  In the two years before being abducted, Sara and her father were writing a series of stories that Sara had tentatively titled, “Lili and the Dragon”. These are short stories about a little girl (about Sara’s age) who plays chess (like Sara) and meets a dragon that does, too. “I didn’t know dragons could talks!” says Lili the first time they meet. “And I didn’t know little girls could play chess!” answers the dragon.

Lili and the Dragon become good friends.  The Dragon explains he will always be around so long as Lili still believes in him.

At left is a picture of the front entrance to Mahon, the institution where Sara now lives, operated by the Chabad-Lubavitch organization, in St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Please post your comments to Sara, or send them privately to the family. We will make every effort to have them delivered through the people who work there.

The father has asked to include a note that he has found kind and decent people within the institution where Sara is living who are working to help children in need.  It is not their fault that Sara has been placed where she does not belong, or put there for the wrong reasons (to isolate her from family). The father has seen the faces of compassionate people whom he believes understand the trauma being inflicted, and who may be able to help Sara get in touch with family, despite the mother’s instructions to keep her in isolation.  This contact has not yet occurred, but the father is hopeful that where there are good people who care about the emotional and psychological well-being of children, it is only a matter of time.