Prominent Russian surgeon arrested on pedophilia charges

A prominent Russian plastic surgeon has been arrested on suspiction of child sexual abuse, the Russian Investigative Committee said on Monday.

Police sources earlier said that the wife of Vladimir Tapiya-Fernandes, a 57-year-old former employee of the Russian Presidential Administration’s Clinical Hospital, turned to police late last week, accusing her husband of sexually abusing their children, aged 13 and 5.

He was detained on Friday. On Sunday, the Kuntsevsky court ordered his arrest.

Born in Bolivia, Tapiya-Fernandes graduated from Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow. He is a member of several Russian and international professional unions, including the Russian Association of Plastic and Aesthetic Surgeons, the International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS) and the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery (EAFPS).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared child protection a vital priority for the future of Russian society, saying that punishment for pedophiles should be “as harsh as possible.”

In early October, Russia’s lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved in the first reading a presidential bill introducing chemical castration for pedophiles.

The bill also stipulates that pedophiles would be stripped of the right to plea for a suspended sentence, and re-offenders for sex crimes against minors will face life sentences.

The voluntary chemical procedure involves a regular application of injections leading to a fall in the level of the male hormone testosterone, which suppresses sexual drive. Its effect, however, is not irreversible.

Pedophilia is characterized as sexual crimes against minors aged under 14. Chemical castration of pedophiles is used in several countries such as Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden, Poland, as well as in some U.S. states.

The Russian authorities moved to toughen punishment for pedophiles in 2009, following a rash of child rape cases earlier that year. Before 2009, rapists were sentenced to just eight to 15 years in prison, and those convicted of sexually abusing children younger than 16 could get away with just a fine.

The law was changed that year, with rapists getting sentences of to up to 20 years in prison. Despite their long jail terms, many convicts reoffend, and many are paroled.

According to the Investigative Committee, more than 9,500 children suffered at the hands of pedophiles in Russia last year. Some 960 of them were raped, of which a third were younger than 14. The figures are almost three times higher than in 2008.


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