Texan’s Struggle with Russian Jail

(Daily360.com) – A Texas man has been sentenced to more than two decades of jail time in Russia due to a custody dispute that spilled into the war-waging nation. 66-year-old David Barnes has been detained in Russia since January of 2022 and has now been found guilty of abusing his two sons, ages seven and four. A Texas court had previously investigated the matter and determined there was no evidence to support any child abuse allegations.

Barnes had been embroiled in a prolonged custody fight with his former wife Svetlana Koptyaeva that should have been resolved in 2019 after the Texas court decided the couple would share joint custody of the boys. However, Koptyaeva, who made the allegations that Barnes abused their sons, took the children out of the country. She fled initially to Turkey and then moved them to Moscow within her native country of Russia. Interpol issued a yellow alert for the children as missing persons and Barnes was then given full custody by the Texas court. Koptyaeva was charged criminally and remains a wanted person by law enforcement in Texas

Barnes traveled to Russia in 2022 in an attempt to work with Russian courts to gain legal access to his sons. Instead, Barnes was put on trial over the same allegations Koptyaeva made in Texas. This time Barnes did not get shared custody of his children, the Russian court sentenced him to 21 years in prison for allegedly abusing his sons between 2014 and 2016.

Barnes’ lawyer Gleb Glinka called this verdict outrageous and said he will be appealing it. He informed Barnes’ family he will file his appeal as soon as February 15th. Koptyaeva says she did not steal her children but instead brought them to Russia as a way to protect them from Barnes.

Barnes’ family said they are hoping the Biden administration will arrange some kind of prisoner exchange to get him back. This administration has a poor record of recovering hostages, though, and there’s no indication that any exchange will be forthcoming.

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