Tag Archives: Russia

Other Crimes of Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь)

The press in Italy and Russia have focused on the destructive child abduction by Marianne Grin and the false information she has tried to air about those who were once near to her. But where there is a willingness to commit big crimes like child abduction, there is no hesitation to commit other ones. In Italy, Grin left behind a paper trail of habitual scams and criminal activities ranging from petty larceny to much more serious financial crimes.

The apartment she occupied in the center of Florence, Italy, belonged to the children’s father. While he was on vacation with the children, Grin sold her apartment on August 13, 2009.  On August 14, she forcefully broke into the her ex-husband’s apartment, declared herself homeless, and threw out all his belongings. But the children’s father, concerned about where his children would sleep when they visited their mother then consented in court that Grin could use his apartment.  The court assigned it to her for her use indefinitely. This became her legal residence in Florence.

Immediately after the abduction, however, the court reassigned it back to her ex-husband. (A story for another day is how just before abducting the children, Grin attempted to continue to control the apartment from Russia by creating a fraudulent “rental agreement” with a friend.)  What the husband discovered in the apartment could only be called a “document falsification workstation.”  Grin had stamps for creating official-looking documents and invoices in Italian and Russian, doctors’ stationary, and piles of examples in her handwriting.

Scams by Using the Children’s Names

As just one example of the activities discovered, the apartment’s internet service was not in the name of Marianne Grin, but the children’s, using fake social security numbers (Codice Fiscale) that she created to make them appear older!

First, she ordered internet in her 13-year old son’s name, using a falsified social security card that made him appear to be 26 years old.  The service was provided for several months, and was finally cut off for failure to make payments.

Internet Falsified Fiscal Code - 12 yr oldThis letter, dated August 18, 2011  is from a collection agency informing the eldest child that because he did not pay his internet bill the account would be closed and the debt sent to a collection agency.

It says that as of August 4, 2011 the child had not paid 437.80 Euros for the internet service that Grin had ordered.

So what did Grin do when the internet was cut-off for non/payment of bills in her son’s name?  She falsified another social security number in the name of her 9-year old daughter to make her appear over 15 years older than she is!

Internet Falsified Fiscal Code - 9 Yr old

In this document, you can see the fake social security number, with a birth date of 1987 instead of 2002. Again the address given for the internet connection was Grin’s legal residence in Florence.

Falsification of social security numbers is a crime in Italy.

Internet Falsified Fiscal Code - 9 Yr old_2

Without her children knowing it, is she doing the same to them in Russia? Potentially ruining their credit worthiness for many years to come?

There seems to be no limits to the criminal behavior of Marianne Grin as well as the lack of caring for her own children.


Russian Recognition Case Decision Postponed to Friday Jan 25, 2013

imagesToday in St. Petersburg, the hearing for the recognition of the Italian judgment providing that the children should live with their father, was held.  The judge  scheduled a final hearing for Friday, January 25, for the decision.

Grin told the judge that Michael “lives in an airplane”.  She also claimed that he had come to the children’s Russian school in November, where she said he beat them in front of the school director, psychologists and teachers. Michael’s lawyers responded that this is nonsense. As the newspaper Fontanka reported yesterday, school representatives were disturbed by Grin’s imaginary claims that they had permitted any violence to take place at the school, calling her assertions “lies”.

Michael’s lawyer explained in court that, following Grin’s bizarre claims, the other Russian court hearing her case against Michael ordered a psychological evaluation (expertise) of the entire family.  This would be the second psychological evaluation in this divorce. The Italian psychological expert, Dr. A. Ceccarelli, issued over 180 pages of findings, reporting that Grin suffers from “a severely disturbed personality,” and transfers paranoid delusions to the children. In his court report to Judge Papait in June 2011, Dr. Ceccarelli says “The mother’s behavior and her relationship with the children … As we have already observed in the occasion of the previous monitoring, Ms. Grin […] appears a person suffering psychologically. Her behaviors are unpredictable and bizarre, guided by paranoid fantasy, of being a subject of a ‘plot’ and of ‘persecution’ in part by the Tribunal and by the ‘institutions’ in general (she manifests a strong distrust even of Social Services and Pediatric Neuropsychiatry). Considering the behavioral picture that emerges from all people that have had contact with the mother, we believe that there should be a new deep psychiatric evaluation of Ms. Grin, there being strong suspicions of a very gravely disturbed personality. In a similar context of mental illness, the relationship of the mother with the children is of strong psycho-pathological risk.”

DS Video Screen Shot 2012-11-27 at 7.52.24 PM

As was also explained in court today, the children have now given testimony that their mother deceived them when she brought them to Russia, telling them that it was only temporary because, she said, their father wanted to put them or their older brother into a mental institution.  Grin has prevented any contact with the father that would allow him to explain or show the children that this is false, for example by showing up at the children’s school on the day scheduled for visitation by the court, screaming “violence” and accusing the school director and teachers of being “scum” and “swine”.

Italy & RussiaThe case involves the recognition of an Italian civil judgment under a 1978 agreement between Russia and Italy for the recognition of each country’s civil judgments. The treaty expressly includes judgments in family law matters. At today’s hearing, representatives of the Italian consulate to St. Petersburg were also present.

Grin did not deny in court that she participated fully in the case in Italy, demanding the same things that three years later she began to request by filing a new court case in Russia. She claimed the two cases were “different” but she did not explain how.

The hearing lasted a few hours and the decision is scheduled for Friday, January 25th.

The father was questioned by a Russian journalist after the hearing but said that he did not wish to comment on the case. He said only that he looks forward to the day when he can hug his children and tell them he loves them. When asked if he had any words for his children, he said with wet eyes, “I miss you all very much.”

Sara and her papa

Sara and her papa

Mike, Eli and Ezra Basketball 2011

To Russia with Love: two Florentine children find their lost friends

Emma awaits her friend, Sara, at her last day of school in Russia

Travels with Emma and Edoardo to St. Petersburg on the trail (found) of the little ones kidnapped by their mother

From the Corriere Fiorentino (Florence edition of the Corriere della Sera), May 31, 2012: Corriere – page 1Corriere – page 2Corriere – page 3

ST. PETERSBURG  – Emma clasps tight in her hand a small card, as if it were a trophy. “This is priceless,” she tells her mother, skipping. Inside is the name of her dear friend, in Italian and Russian. It is priceless because that card is proof of an encounter that took too many months to occur. Mission accomplished. Emma and Sara, “friends for life,” finally managed to hug and now Emma is skipping as her dark eyes brim with joy. Her emotion from clasping that card so tight prompts her mother, Francesca, to tuck it safely into her purse so it doesn’t crumple.

Emma had to come to Russia to see her friend, and while preparing for this important trip she seemed much older than her nine years.  She waited for Sara for nine months in Florence, for her return from summer vacation. She was supposed to celebrate her birthday but that party never took place because Sara, together with her brothers – all in the custody of their father  by a court decree after the parent’s separation – was taken away to Russia, far from the father, the aunt and uncles, from their friends and from the lives they had always lived.

The criminal code refers to this as parental child abduction, a polite term for kidnapping, but for Emma it is simply called injustice. “Why did they leave without even saying goodbye?” she kept asking.  For months her parents hid the truth, and gradually her mother tried to explain.

Even Edoardo, 13 years old, last summer waited in vain for his friend Elliot to return from vacation. He waited because after having devoured together many fantasy novels, they decided to write a book based on real people. “We wanted to see who could write more – explained Edo – when he came to sleep at my house we would stay awake until late playing videogames and bouncing ideas off of each other about what to write.”

Elliot got all the way to 90 pages. That book is now in a computer file that remained in Florence when Elliot was forced to burn all of his bridges with the life he had always lived.

Michael, the “orphaned” father of his four children (Sam, 14, Elliot, 12, Sara, 9, and Ezra, 6) is an American lawyer who has spent his life in Italy.  Accustomed to difficult cases, he now finds himself with the most difficult battle of all. But he refuses to treat it as war. “I never declared war on anyone.  I only want my children to be well,” he repeats.  Notwithstanding the odyssey that he’s living through, he doesn’t use ferocious words against his ex wife. Of her he says only that, “she is ill and needs help, but refuses to accept any. She doesn’t realize the harm she is doing to the children.”

The Florence court two years ago awarded him sole custody of the children. A court-appointed psychologist painted a clear picture of the cyclone that was raging through Marianne’s mind. “Psychologically suffering with unpredictable and bizarre behavior, driven by paranoid fantasies” and victim of “plots and persecutions.”

Despite this psychological portrait, the judge allowed the mother to take the children on vacation as if that evaluation had never existed. Since last summer Michael’s life has been a pursuit without end. When he discovered where the children were located, he went to find them, a battle against his ex wife – who wants to prevent any contact with the children – and even the Russian media since Marianne presents her situation as an escape from Italy rendered necessary by a violent husband.  Only one newspaper, Fontanka, dug further, thanks to a reporter, Irina Tumakova, who did not limit herself to Marianne’s accusations but who actually read the documents, spoke with the protagonists, and in the end arrived at a different truth.  It was she who called the police when, a month ago, Michael came to the school where the children had been recently enrolled.

Only after the police arrived did the school director allow the children to see their father.  “He has his parental rights,” the policemen explained, “why are you not letting him see them?”  Since that moment, Michael’s life has been based on those trips to Russia, round trip Florence-St. Petersburg, to see his children, if only for a few minutes.

An apartment on the outskirts of town, three school changes: nine months of life as fugitives

A neighborhood of tall apartment buildings on the outskirts of the city, near the sea, with the occasional playground: this is where the fugitive children are now living. By car, it takes about an hour to get from there to the center of this imperial city, which was the court of the tsars. This suburb with its construction works strewn about seems so far from the postcards containing palaces and churches.

Since they arrived in Russia, at the end of August, the children have a fugitive’s life. They have changed school three times:  first one, then to an ultra-orthodox Jewish orphanage, from which the mother took the children out only on weekends, and finally this blue institute near the apartment where they now live.

Today the school is festive because it is the last day of elementary school.  There’s a play, music, and song, and the presentation of end-of-the-year reports.

When Sara sees her dear friend she panics and runs away.  Emma is holding a present for that birthday that was never celebrated. She drew two little girls who are holding each others’ hands. She wrote, “Emma and Sara: friends for life” and she had it printed on a t-shirt.

Edo meets Elliot and gives him a videogame as a present. They talk non-stop the entire morning. It’s the magic of children who manage to latch onto an uninterrupted thread months later, as if no time had gone by.

There she is, the fugitive woman. Wearing a fuchsia pullover and with a camera in hand, she mingles with the other mothers. When she sees the friends from Italy, together with her ex-husband and the children’s uncle Kevin who came from the USA, she cannot hide her anger. She speaks to the children’s friends, scolding them, “Why did you come without telling me? This shows a lack of respect!”

Emma tries to say hello to her friend from the distance, and then breaks out in tears. She only manages to deliver her gift as Marianne takes Sara away.  But a couple of hours later the unexpected call arrives: the children can come to her house. When Sara opens the door, she is wearing the t-shirt that Emma made. Edoardo and Elliot play ball like old times.

In order for this to occur, however, Marianne had imposed her rules, which seem like those dictated by a hostage-taker negotiating the release of one of the hostages:  telephone calls only from a Russian phone number, no adults may be present, the children must arrive on their own to the gate, and she alone will come down and get them.

Earlier in the day, Marianne had explained to Edoardo – why him is anyone’s guess – that she has little money left.  She said that because dentists are expensive, she had to have the children’s braces removed from their teeth.  I wanted to ask Marianne why she refused to accept the father’s offer to pay for all of their health expenses, dental included, in one of the best medical clinics in the city.  But she didn’t want questions and instead just shouted, “go away, I’m calling the police.”

The meeting of the children lasts an hour.  When they leave the apartment, Emma and Edoardo have happiness painted on their faces. “Can we come back tomorrow?” they ask. Marianne will disappear into a void for the nth time. Her phone will ring unanswered in the days that follow.

The mother’s lies: “Papa, why do you want to lock my brother up in an asylum?”

The next day, the father returns to the school with Edo and uncle Kevin. The only one present is Elliot. Sam – the previous day – had attacked the father from behind, when he saw him at school, and doesn’t want to see him.

The meeting with Elliot takes place in a room in the presence of the school psychologist. At the beginning he refuses to speak with his father or to look him in the eye. Then, between laughs at his uncle Kevin’s clowning and his friend Edoard, he levels the following accusation at his dad: “you were here in court on February 7, my birthday, and you didn’t even give me a present. You want to take us away from here in order to put my brother Sam into an insane asylum.”

Michael calmly explains that this isn’t true at all, that he didn’t even know where they were then [NDR and that the accusation of putting his brother in an asylum is false].  And in a moment he understands that the hardest rock to climb won’t be to win a judicial battle, but to combat the lies and phantoms that Marianne is fabricating day after day in the minds of the children.

Antonella Mollica

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

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

Links in the letter:

Inessa Grin Statement: https://bringflorentinekidshome.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/инесса-грин-бабушка-отчаянный

Links to reports of the Grin case:

In the United States:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harris-silver/russian-democracy-has-a-p_b_1228575.html

In Italy:  http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2011/10/14/rapisce-figli-scappa-in-russia.html

In Britain: http://tashalaw.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/update-international-child-abduction-marianne-grin-case/

In Russia: http://www.fontanka.ru/2012/03/22/024/

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.

Religion as a Weapon

The abducted children were all raised within the Florence Jewish Community. But during her divorce, Marianne Grin, their mother, distanced herself from the community when they did not take her side against her ex-husband.

The community’s reaction was understandable. They took the side of the children, not either parent.

So Grin went looking for a religious group that would take her side against her ex and not question the veracity of anything she said. Her first stop was Chabad-Lubavitch. Her next stop is the Russian Orthodox Church. Read on….

In 2009, Grin left the Florence Jewish Community for a small Lubavitcher group in Florence lead by an American Lubavitcher, Elie Borenstein, who operated out of a small store-front in via dei Pilastri. Chabad-Lubavitch is an ultra-orthodox sect of Judaism (see http://www.judaism.about.com).

The children were not raised in a Hassidic family and had no Hassidic background. But this did not deter the Lubavitch rabbi. He had a past of poor relations with Florence’s Jewish Community. In Grin, he found a weapon of his own.

At Grin’s request, he publicly took her side in the divorce. He helped her use Judiasm to create a rift in the family, instill resentment in the children towards non-Jewish family members, and sowed suspicion that their friends in the Florence Jewish community (an Orthodox community) were “not real Jews” because they did not believe in the Lubavitch “Messiah.”

For the most part, the children were unswayed. Friends are friends, after all. They’d grown up in this community.

This only inflamed Borenstein’s zeal to separate the children from their family and friends. He assisted Grin in taking the children away from their friends and the Synagogue in Florence,  to participate in Lubavitcher services in Venice, three hours away by train. He sent defamatory letters on Chabad stationary calling the father an anti-Semite. Why such vehemence? Because the father had successfully kept the children in the Jewish community in which they had grown up, where they attended the preschool at the Synagogue and took Talmud Torah (lessons in Hebrew and Jewish culture and history).

In fact, the accusation of anti-semitism offended members of the community who had seen the lengths to which the father had gone to ensure continuity in the lives of the children. Subjecting the children to dramatic changes in the type and place of their religion also did not pass the notice of social workers, psychiatrists, and the court-appointed expert, who all commented with dismay on how the children’s lives were being upended.

Child Abductors

In October 2011, the Venice newspaper reported that the same Chabad-Lubavitch group helped Grin abduct the children to Russia.


After being abducted to Russia, Sam, Elliot, Sara and Ezra have spent the last seven months in Chabad-run institutions operated by Lubavitch rabbi’s Pewzner and Tolochinsky. These Lubavitcher rabbi’s have denied the father, family, and the children’s friends any access, without any legal basis. They have refused to lift a finger even to convey birthday greetings from grandparents, ensuring the total isolation of the children while kept in their institutions.

But these institutions have now been exposed in the media in Russia and Italy for what they have done to the children.  See, for example:

Corriere Fiorentino article April 4 2012 copy



So, while requesting decent and moral behavior did not help, there is now the possibility that media attention will cause them to refrain from keeping the children so isolated in the future. This remains to be seen.  Of course, there is also a chance they will say they cannot force Grin or the children to speak with their family or friends, coldly hiding behind the mother or their own indoctrination of the children to avoid responsibility for what they have done.

But let’s assume Chabad-Lubavitch in Russia stops isolating the children.  What then?  Grin has a back up plan. She has already disclosed it in Russian court.

Goodbye Chabad-Lubavitch, hello Russian Orthodox Church!

In a St. Petersburg court, Grin has now produced a letter from the Russian Orthodox church in Florence, Italy claiming her ex-husband had denied the children access to the Church since they arrived in Italy in 1999, and making false accusations against the father. The letter was addressed to the Russian Ombuds for Children, Pavel Astakhov, and demands he help Grin.

This, to put it mildly, is bizarre, considering the above circumstances. But it makes sense if Grin is planning a “move” to the Russian Orthodox Church, or has already joined while her children were being isolated in the Chabad orphanages. And the new religion and institutions will of course help the newcomer at least until they, too, realize they are being scammed and their charity misused.

In fact, when confronted by the family about their letter, woman who signed the letter, the wife of the priest, said she only wrote what Grin had requested. They apparently trusted Grin as they would any other member of their congregation, so they didn’t verify her claims. They were shocked to learn the truth, especially since they were receiving appeals from her again to send money to her in Russia.

They have since written a letter of retraction, after being shown evidence that all of their accusations were false.

They also did not know Grin and the children were Jewish.

Perhaps, soon, they won’t be…