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French father dismisses joint custody, in favor of visitation


PARIS, April 21 (RIA Novosti) - The French father, whose 3-year-old daughter was snatched last month by her Russian mother, said he is against joint custody but in favor of visitation rights as long as he has a guarantee the girl will return to France.

The mother, Irina Belenkaya, was arrested last Sunday while trying to cross the Hungarian border into Ukraine with her three-year-old daughter, Elise Andre, who returned to France last Tuesday along with her 51-year-old father, Jean-Michel Andre.

"I have never suggested joint custody rights with my [ex-] wife," Andre told RIA Novosti. "She can no longer be trusted. And worst of all [Elise] was separated from me for 10 months and called Vladislav Isayev (Belenkaya's current partner and the father of her first daughter) father."

A court in Hungary ruled last week that Belenkaya should remain in police detention until an extradition request from the French authorities on kidnapping charges is issued.

However, if France fails to issue an extradition warrant within 40 days, Belenkaya, who refused to consent to the simplified extradition procedure, will be freed.

"I want us to come to an agreement that would allow Elise to spend an equal amount of time with her father and mother," Andre said.

"But I must be sure that she will be cared for in Russia and that I can come at any time if any danger emerges there, and that we have [constant] telephone and video contact, so that I know with whom she's living, attends a French-speaking school, and that my [ex-] wife pays for all of this since she is maintaining that she has a good job and doesn't need my money," the Frenchman added.

In France, Belenkaya is also accused of organizing an attack on her ex-husband. Andre says his ex-wife was among a group of assailants who seized his daughter from him.

Andre said last week that he did not want his wife to face a jail term for kidnapping her child and agreed to send his daughter to Russia for two months if her return back to France was guaranteed.

Elise has been "kidnapped" back and forth three times in the past two years by her warring parents. Andre was awarded custody by a French court after their divorce in 2007.

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