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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pop Star, Chechen Fight Over Son

Prominent Chechen businessman Ruslan Baisarov and pop singer Kristina Orbakaite, known for hits such as “Tango for Three,” began court action Monday in a headline-grabbing battle for custody of their 11-year-old son, Deni.

The blond daughter of pop diva Alla Pugachyova and the businessman with links to Mayor Yury Luzhkov have both turned to the tabloids to argue their case.

Orbakaite, who ended a relationship with Baisarov in 2003, raised the alarm last week, when her spokeswoman told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Deni failed to return from a vacation with his father in Chechnya. The boy lived with his mother and was due to return to his Moscow school.

Orbakaite later told RIA-Novosti that she had not seen Deni since he went on vacation with his father in July and had only spoken to him once on the telephone at a lawyer’s request.

Baisarov told the Life.ru web site Friday that the feud arose after Pugachyova told him that Deni was going to study in the United States. He said he asked Orbakaite to sign an agreement that the boy would not move abroad.

In a complex legal case, both Baisarov and his mother filed for custody of Deni in the Grozny District Court last month. Baisarov attended a preliminary hearing Monday, when the judge ruled that Deni should stay with his father until the case continues on Sept. 15, Interfax reported.

“I’m categorically against my son being taken away to America while he has a living father,” Baisarov said afterward, Interfax reported.

He said the scandal had been “blown up.”

Orbakaite, who did not attend the hearing, told Interfax that she did not believe that the Grozny court decision was valid. “In fact, they have no rights, this Grozny court,” she said.

Orbakaite has also mounted a challenge in Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court, which will hold a preliminary hearing on Sept. 17, RIA-Novosti reported.

Baisarov is a director on the board of the Moscow Oil and Gas Company, whose chairman is Luzhkov.

Orbakaite, 38, has forged a singing and acting career in the shadow of her mother, Pugachyova. She was ranked 26th in a list of best-paid Russian stars by Forbes magazine in August, with an income of $1.5 million.

Orbakaite accused Baisarov of failing to pay regular alimony during a news conference at RIA-Novosti’s offices Friday. She said Baisarov is unable to visit the United States under a visa ban dating back to the 1990s “for reasons known to him alone.”

Many Russian stars send their children to study abroad. Pop singers Leonid Agutin and Anzhelika Varum told 7 Dnei magazine this year that their 10-year-old daughter studies in Miami and has not visited Russia for five years.