Cyprus Mail

Contested surrogacy case leads to arrests in the north

A complex case touching on the controversial issue of surrogate parenthood, which has been unfolding since May 2015, may be nearing its end, as a Russian surrogate mother, accused by the biological mother of having abducted her 17-month-old baby, was arrested by Turkish Cypriot police on Tuesday, along with four Greek Cypriots who apparently were helping her flee the country.

The baby, Sofia, is the object of a legal feud between Olga Mirimskaya, 54, and Svetlana Bezpiataia, 39, both Russian nationals. In August 2014, Mirimskaya and her partner Nikolay Smirnov, decided to have a child, and came to an agreement with Bezpiataia – a formal contract was signed, in accordance with Russian law – for her to bear the child for them.

In May 2015, Bezpiataia disappeared, and Mirimskaya – whose affair with Smirnov had meantime ended – discovered she had borne the child in a Moscow hospital, but claimed it was hers and her husband’s, and did not disclose the surrogacy. Thus, a birth certificate showing that Sofia was Bezpiataia’s child was issued. Soon thereafter, she and her husband left Russia for Cyprus.

Mirimskaya, a wealthy businesswoman, launched a legal battle against Bezpiataia, asking the court to annul the birth certificate and recognise her as the legal mother.

The Russian courts vindicated her and issued a warrant for the arrest of Bezpiataia, which remains pending as she could not be found.

A similar court order in Cyprus also remains pending for the same reason.

According to the transcript of one of many cases filed in Cypriot courts over the case, Bezpiataia’s home was being guarded by private security round the clock, for fear that the child might be abducted.

The surrogate mother also claimed that DNA testing proved that the baby is in no way related to Mirimskaya.

Russian media reports suggest Bezpiataia has been funded by, and acting on instructions of, Smirnov.

According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris, Bezpiataia and four Greek Cypriots were arrested on Tuesday near the village of Acheritou, Famagusta, by Turkish Cypriot authorities, after attempting to cross into a military area.

The 17-month-old girl, the paper said, had been dressed up as a boy.

All five were remanded for two days.

Following her arrest, Bezpiataia was reported as having told the authorities that the child is the fruit of her illicit affair with Smirnov, and that the wealthy couple wanted to take her baby from her after it was born.

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