MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (AP) - A Maple Grove man is at the center of an international custody battle that’s left his 4-year-old son in an unsettled place - Ukraine.
In 2011, Andrew Vilenchik traveled to Ukraine with his son, then 2, and his now-former wife, a Ukrainian citizen he met in Minnesota, KARE-TV reported (http://kare11.tv/1o7Qx4Q ). She extended her stay while Vilenchik returned to Minnesota, and she later decided to remain in Ukraine with their son permanently.
State Department papers show that a Ukrainian court ordered Maxim’s return to America last June. Two months later, an appeals court overturned that order. In November, the Ukrainian Specialized Supreme Court upheld the original order.
“I was a Marine so I’m a very systematic person. I follow the law,” Vilenchik said. “I followed every step of the process and I went through every single court.”
Accompanied by his lawyer, Vilenchik took his son in January to the U.S. Embassy, which issued the boy a temporary passport.
“They suggested I get on the first plane and get out as soon as possible,” Vilenchik recalled.
But Ukraine authorities pulled Vilenchik and his son out of line at the airport and took them to a police building for questioning. Once cleared to leave hours later, Vilenchik was attacked by his ex-wife and several family members and friends of hers.
Fearing for his life, Vilenchik returned to Minnesota the next day. He’s been trying since then to find U.S. officials willing to intervene on his behalf. He’s contacted both of Minnesota’s U.S. senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar
“We’ve sent his request to the State Department. We’re awaiting their response,” Franken spokesman Marc Kimball said.
“My biggest concern is that he’s going to disappear in the war and I will never see him,” he said.