Mystery surrounds vanished French-Russian toddler

24th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

French and Russian investigators are still on the lookout for the three and a half-year-old girl who was abducted last week in the south of France allegedly by her Russian mother.

MOSCOW – French and Russian investigators were Monday looking for signs of a young girl who was abducted last week in the south of France and is the subject of a dispute between her French and Russian parents.

The Russian police denied reports that the authorities had confirmed that three-and-a-half-year-old Elise, whose father is French and mother Russian, had been taken to Moscow after her abduction.

"We deny this information. It is not correct. We have no information on where she is at the moment," said Tatyana Bondareva, spokeswoman for the interior ministry.

The French embassy in Moscow also said it had no information over the girl's location.

But other reports from unnamed sources suggested the authorities were confident that she was in Russia.

"We have information that the girl and the individuals who abducted her arrived in Russia by plane with false papers," a Russian interior ministry source told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"We know the flight number. It has been established that these persons have arrived in Russia. Our agents will now establish who the kidnappers are."

The father, Jean-Michel Andre, was beaten by his daughter's captors in the abduction in the southern city of Arles, prompting French authorities to alert police across Europe for signs of Elise and her mother, Irina Belenkaya.

Russian media have noted it is the latest in a series of custody disputes between French men who have married Russian women.

Andre himself snatched the girl from a street in Moscow 2008 after the mother took the daughter to Russia from him against his will and in defiance of a French court ruling.

AFP / Expatica

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