Support The Moscow Times!

U.S. Teen in Siberian Exile for 'Uncontrollable' Behavior

Novosibirsk in February 2008. D. Grishkin

A mother in the U.S. punished her 15-year old daughter for bad behavior by banishing her to Siberia in 2011.

U.S. citizen Natalia Roberts sent her daughter, Sofia Petrova, to Novosibirsk for three weeks to meet her biological father, but then told her not to come back, WUSA9 television channel reported.

Petrova, now 17, was born in Russia and came to the U.S. with her mother at the age of two. She said that her mother's decision was likely premeditated, and that when she arrived in Novosibirsk she spoke no Russian while her father didn't speak any English.

Petrova said that her Russian father often drank and beat her several times. Things got so bad that she left home and went to live in a children's center.

Roberts and her husband, James, said their decision was provoked by Petrova's "uncontrollable" behavior, accusing her of stealing money from them, using drugs and bringing boys into the house. Sending her to Novosibirsk was the right decision, they said.

Petrova's friends said, however, that she didn't smoke or use drugs and that they tried to help her to come back to the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said that her chances of getting a visa will diminish after she turns 18 in March.

Roberts said she would let her daughter come back home only when she could demonstrate that her behavior had improved.

Petrova, who now lives and works in a Novosibirsk hotel and pays for school tuition herself, said she "would just be happy to be on American soil."

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.