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Russia launches kidnapping probe against Finnish father


MOSCOW, May 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Investigation Committee has launched criminal proceedings against a Finnish national who is suspected of illegally taking his son out of Russia, a committee spokesman said on Friday.

Paavo Salonen is being investigated on suspicion of kidnapping his five-year-old son Anton, Vladimir Markin said, adding that the boy's Russian mother had not given permission for her son to leave the country.

The Russian foreign minister discussed the latest case involving the kidnapping of a Russian child with his Finnish counterpart on Thursday after it emerged the boy and his father, whose visa had expired, spent several days in the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg before leaving the country.

"Taking the child out without his mother's consent was a major violation of Russian law and criminally liable," a Foreign Ministry statement read.

The case resembles a recent high-profile "tug of love" custody battle between a French national and his estranged Russian wife which resulted in the kidnapping of a 3-year-old girl by her mother.

Jean-Michel Andre and Irina Belenkaya, who is in a Hungarian jail awaiting extradition to France, have been embroiled in a bitter dispute that led to their daughter, Elise, being "kidnapped" back and forth three times in the past two years.

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