In July 2018, three sisters killed, confessed and were charged with the murder of their abusive father. A year later, supporters see a more likely road to their release.

MOSCOW — Newly published documents have caused a revitalized outpouring of support for Krestina, Angelina, and Maria Khachaturyan who, after suffering years of abuse by their father, killed him in their Moscow apartment.

A recently concluded investigation by Russian state officials established at least seven separate instances of abuse against the sisters dating back to 2014, which supports their claims of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse by their father.

The Russian criminal code allows arguments of self-defense in situations of immediate aggression, but also during times of “continuous crime.” The sisters’ lawyers argue their clients were victims of “continuous crime” and therefore acted in self-defense.

The investigation not only renews debate in Russia regarding the sisters’ fate, but also about the recent decriminalization of domestic abuse.

Before 2017, domestic violence against children was punishable by two years in prison, provided no bones were broken. However, in January of 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin reduced the punishment to 15 days in police custody or a 30,000 ruble fine (approximately $450).

The Khachaturyan sisters were released from police custody for the remainder of the trial but live with considerable restrictions, among which is the inability to communicate with journalists, or each other.

If they are convicted, Krestina and Angelina could serve 20 years in prison, and Maria, who was a minor at the time of the crime, could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Experts say around 80% of women sentenced for murder in Russian prisons were convicted of murdering an abuser.

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