Man Cut Off Wife's Hands, and Court Tells Russia to Pay

European Court of Human Rights weighed in on Tuesday
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2021 11:27 AM CST
Russia Must Pay Woman Whose Husband Cut Off Her Hands
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A woman suffered an unthinkable crime committed by her husband, and now Russia will pay, quite literally. Margarita Gracheva was kidnapped by her then-husband in December 2017; he took her into a forest, struck her at least 40 times with an ax, and cut off her hands, per the CBC. The BBC reports doctors were able to reattach what it calls her "mutilated" left hand, which had been kept cold by the snow it fell into. She has minimal movement in the hand, however, and her right arm has been fitted with a prosthetic. Dmitry Grachev was convicted and sentenced to 14 years. But that wasn't the only consideration her case got in court.

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ordered Russia to pay four female domestic violence victims whom the court found the country failed to safeguard. Gracheva is one, and will receive more than $400,000. She had reported her husband's threats to police prior to the attack, but the Moscow Times reports cops only pressured her to withdraw her complaint and closed her case because she hadn't been physically harmed. Following the attack, she tried to sue law enforcement for professional negligence, but that effort went nowhere.

Per the European Court of Human Rights, her case demonstrates how under Russian law, domestic abuse isn't dealt with until it causes physical injury. Indeed, the BBC reports that in 2017 President Vladimir Putin signed a law that eased things, with first offenses for domestic violence that don't involve hospitalization no longer qualifying as a criminal offense. Reuters reports that, at the time, Putin said the aim was to minimize state meddling in family affairs. (Read more Russia stories.)

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