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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mayor's Wife Set Free After Son's Death




A television journalist who is also the wife of the mayor of Novocherkassk got off without jail time after confessing to accidentally shooting a 10-year-old boy with a rifle and trying to cover up the crime.


Svetlana Tarasova was given a three-year suspended sentence this week for killing her stepson, Denis Prisyazhnyuk, in November f a ruling so light that some have suggested it reflected the political pull of her husband, Nikolai Prisyazhnyuk, the southern Russian city's mayor.


Tarasova testified that the morning of Nov. 4 she walked into a room of the family home to find her stepson with the rifle in his lap. She said he refused to hand it over to her, and she tried to wrestle it away from him, accidentally setting it off and killing him.


After the shooting, Tarasova, an anchor at Novocherkassk's Channel 21, testified that she put the boy's corpse in her car trunk while she drove off to do an on-location interview with the director of a meat processing plant.


Once that interview was a wrap, Tarasova testified, she went to her mother's to borrow a shovel f she told her mother she wanted to plant some trees f and then drove to the shore of a local lake and buried the boy.


Later that day she was confronted by both her husband the mayor and by his ex-wife , Galina Prisyazhnyuk, Denis' mother. The mayor then drove Tarasova to a local police station, where after a two-hour interrogation she confessed to killing the boy and was immediately charged with premeditated murder.


The charges were subsequently reduced to manslaughter as more serious charges "wouldn't stick," said an investigator with the local prosecutor's office.


"We would have been glad to get her for premeditated murder, but this could not be proved," the investigator said in a telephone interview from his Rostov-on-Don office on Friday.


Instead, Judge Vakhtang Shavulidze of the Pervomaisky district court in Rostov-on-Don ruled it manslaughter Wednesday.


Reached by telephone Friday, Mayor Prisyazhnyuk said he believed the court's verdict in the case of his son's death was "a fair one."


"I have accepted the verdict as an objective and fair one," he said.


He said he had no plans of divorcing Tarasova over what he described as a "tragic accident."


Local crime watchdogs said the fact Tarasova is the mayor's wife could have influenced Judge Shavulidze.


"The verdict could have been different if she hadn't been the wife of the mayor," said the Vecherny Rostov newspaper's crime reporter Irina Varlamova, who has followed the case.


Varlamova cited a similar case in which a local young man accidentally shot his girlfriend. He did not cover that up, however, unlike Tarasova, but rushed the girl to a local hospital, where she died. He was sentenced to four years in prison, she said.


The judge could not be reached Friday, but his aide defended the verdict in telephone interview, praising her boss as an "experienced and fair judge."


Galina Prisyazhnyuk has already vowed to appeal the verdict. The grief-stricken woman believes Tarasova killed her son on purpose and then covered it up, the judge's aide said.


Galina Prisyazhnyuk could not be reached Friday.


Tarasova has taken sick leave and could not be reached at her office on Friday. Her colleagues at the television station would not comment on the case.