A few hours before he died, he returned from a psychiatric clinic, prepared his three daughters to stick them to the messy apartment and pepper sprayed their faces, according to the sisters ’investigators and lawyers. His eldest daughter Krestina, who has asthma, has crumbled.
That was the night that the Khachaturyan sisters – Krestina, 19, Angelina, 18, and Maria, 17 – decided to kill their father. They attacked him with a hammer, knife, and the same can of pepper spray he had turned on them earlier.
Transcripts of the interrogation leaked to the press, and verified on CNN by a lawyer for one of the sisters, show that the women tried to inflict wounds on themselves to make it look as if their father, who was asleep at the start of the attack, had hit them with a knife first. Then they called the police and an ambulance.
The three were arrested the next day and claimed to have killed, saying they had suffered years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse from their father, according to their lawyers and the Russian prosecutor general̵7;s office.
Last summer, the sisters were charged with premeditated murder, sparking a stir among activists in Russia, which is leading to a problem of extensive domestic abuse.
The Khachaturyans case quickly became a notorious cause for rights groups fighting to pass a law protecting victims of domestic abuse that was protected by parliament in 2016.
After a lengthy pre-trial investigation, their trial opens on Friday in the Moscow courtroom. The two older sisters, Krestina and Angelina, will stand trial together. Maria, who was a minor at the time of the murder but charged after she was 18, was also deemed mentally unfit to commit homicide and will be tried separately on a murder charge, according to one of the sisters’ lawyers, Aleksey Liptser.
Experts of domestic violence, along with the sisters’ defense team, say that in the absence of adequate protective mechanisms in law enforcement and the court system, their only option was to defend them. themselves or eventually die at the hands of their father.
In text conversations obtained from their father’s phone and posted on Facebook by Liptser, Mikhail Khachaturyan appeared to have threatened to kill them and sexually abuse them and their mother.
“I’m going to beat you up completely, I’m going to kill you,” says one text from April 2018, where he accused them of having sex with a male friend. “You’re a prostitute and you’re going to die a prostitute.”
The transcripts of the interrogation also pitter-pattered a chilling picture of mental, physical and sexual abuse dating back at least four years before the murder.
“We think they had no other choice. The father drove the girls to despair, their whole life was a continuous hell. They can’t be compared to healthy, calm and balanced people … [the] the girls developed serious mental illness, including abuse syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. This was confirmed by all the examinations in the case, “said one of the sisters’ lawyers, Aleksey Parshin.
Since last summer, activists have organized dozens of demonstrations in support of the nuns under the “He did not want to die” campaign, and called on the authorities to reclassify the case around self-defense. the sisters.
A 2019 investigation by Media Zone, a Russian shop covering justice and prisons, said nearly 80% of Russian women jailed for premeditated murder in 2016-2018 were trying to protect themselves from abusers.
While Russian lawmakers have left the account of domestic violence on the backburner since 2016, they have found time to decriminalize some forms of abuse three years ago.
At first, public pressure seemed to have raised the case for the Khachaturyan sisters.
In January, the prosecutor’s office confirmed allegations made by the defense that the Khachaturyan sisters had suffered “beatings, constant humiliation, threats and abuse, physical and sexual violence” and that they had developed a “defensive reaction.”
Prosecutors then ordered the Investigative Committee to reclassify the case from premeditated murder to necessary self-defense.
Parshin told state news agency TASS at the time that the move “essentially means the end of a criminal investigation” against the sisters, who faced up to 20 years in prison on charges of premeditated murder.
But in a reversal, Viktor Grin, the same prosecutor who first recommended the degradation of the case, confirmed in May that charges of premeditated murder would indeed be brought against the sisters. No explanation was given for the change.
Mari Davtyan, a lawyer for nuns who often represents victims of domestic abuse, linked the reversal to a broader trend of expelling human rights that has been growing since the passage of controversial amendments to the constitution Russia following a referendum on 1 July.
“I think it’s impossible not to notice what’s happening every day since July 1, 2020, the state has chosen its path,” Davtyan wrote on her Facebook page. “And the Khachaturyan case is no exception.”