Although hopes for the girl's return have faded in recent days, after it was revealed that her father, Algirdas Švanys, according to the Russian side, also has Russian citizenship and has been living freely with the baby in Kaliningrad, a miracle has occurred.
It is a miracle only for those watching this story from the side. For the child's mother, the lawyers in Lithuania and Russia, and the Lithuanian authorities, it was hard and consistent work that brought the little citizen back to her homeland.
How did this dangerous mission to Russia end successfully? What happened during it? How is the mother and her baby feeling at the moment?
She spent the night in Russia
As reported on Tuesday evening, the nine-month-old girl, taken from Lithuania to Russia by her father at the end of August, was returned to Lithuania a little after 8 pm, having crossed the border with her mother in Kybartai.
Tomas Ryzgelis, the lawyer representing the toddler's mother, told lrytas. lt that the woman had gone to Russia a few days ago – she had been in Kaliningrad already on Monday afternoon and spent the night there.
The mother of the child managed to get a visa within a few days. According to Mr Ryzgelis, there were no bureaucratic difficulties.
„I would not say there were any particular obstacles – the application was submitted, and the visa to Russia was issued within the deadline. There were no exceptional problems“, the lawyer assured.
However, Ryzgelis did not disclose whether the mother had met the child's father in Russia, nor could he say whether Švanys had opposed the girl's return to Lithuania.
„All I can say is that it was certainly a complex work from all sides, and the chronology of events was such that everything was very dynamic; everything was changing by the hour. The diplomatic forces were deployed, and lawyers worked on the Russian side. It was a complex work that resulted in a victory“, the lawyer explained.
Russian lawyers also worked extensively on the issue of the girl's return to Lithuania. According to Ryzgelis, these were private lawyers licensed and working specifically in the Russian Federation.
„We were simply looking for people who could represent the child's mother in the Russian Federation, in the courts, in institutions. We found such people and agreed on cooperation with them,“ the specialist said.
The lawyer could not specify where Švanys, who abducted his child, is at the moment but stressed that the man did not cross the Lithuanian border on Tuesday together with his daughter and her mother.
„As far as I understand, he probably stayed in Russia. He did not cross the Lithuanian border with the child's mother and the child,“ Ryzgelis said.
According to the lawyer, although the girl's mother had been in great shock over the past week, she remained strong until the end.
„The mother is a very strong woman – of course, she was in a lot of shock during this whole story, but at the same time, she held on very strongly. It is commendable how she has withstood this whole situation. And today, it is an emotion, a great joy – Mum is very happy and content,“ the lawyer said.
This story is also extraordinary for Ryzgelis himself. He said that although there were many challenges, only working together gave the best result.
„The story itself is exceptional – it's not every day that something like this happens, where the child's father takes the baby with him on a boat and goes to Russia. Of course, there were many challenges and difficult situations, but we had a plan, a cool head, worked, and took action – one by one. We were moving towards that result, and we were doing our best“, the lawyer said.
The baby's aunt: the child was starving and did not react to many things
Although Lithuanian authorities assured on Tuesday that the mother and the baby were fine, the abducted girl's aunt, the mother's sister Monika, gave more details.
„Yesterday, the child came back to us. It was quite a tense situation, and it was certainly a challenging day for everyone yesterday. We are thrilled that we were able to get our little girl back into a safe environment,“ she told lrytas.lt.
According to the girl's aunt, the baby was starving
„I know from my family members that the child is too hungry. The child was malnourished. We may not see it physically, but from the child's behaviour, we can tell that the child has been severely malnourished for some time. Thank God my sister is breastfeeding. The child is breastfed continuously, and we hope to restore his physical condition,“ said Monika.
She says the child's emotional state is currently difficult, and for some time, he has had difficulty reacting to his surroundings and not recognising his mother.
„The child was emotionally completely frozen, not reacting to many things. Only when he arrived home, in a familiar environment, did he slowly start to react to things. And anyway, a child's first instinct is to grab everything and put it in his mouth. You can see that insufficient nutrients were given to ensure all the child's needs were met,“ said the little one's aunt.
Monika revealed that the child's father, Švanys, had declared an utterly different residence in Kaliningrad to the Russian authorities while he was staying with the baby in an abandoned farmhouse. This factor played a crucial role in the recovery of the baby. She is extremely grateful to the authorities who helped her.
„We are grateful not only to the institutions that work in Lithuania but also to the institutions that worked on the side of the Russian Federation because we also worked on the rights of Russian children. We hired our lawyer, at our own expense, who did a great job.
We knew the man had fictitiously registered his residence in Kaliningrad but had never been there with the baby. We know he planned to raise the baby in an inappropriate environment. It was an abandoned farmhouse which was completely unsuited to the needs of a baby, even to the needs of a normal person. This was a huge factor because yesterday, the father refused to show the child to the authorities, and the lawyer on the Russian side immediately warned the authorities that they needed to check the child's living environment and that the official place was not where the child was. The authorities were taken to the place where the child was kept. The services immediately confirmed this was not a suitable environment for raising a baby. From then on, everything moved quickly and efficiently“, said Monika.
While the authorities were communicating with the kidnapper after finding Švanis and the baby in an abandoned farmhouse, the girl was handed over to her mother. She took the opportunity to run to the Lithuanian Consulate in Kaliningrad with her baby daughter.
According to the child's aunt, the mother crossed the border with the baby on her initiative with the consulate's help. Although she and the girl were detained at the border post, they were eventually allowed to leave Kaliningrad for Lithuania.
Monika shared her request not to disturb her family members at this time and to enable them to recover appropriately. The girl is scheduled to be taken for a medical examination on Wednesday. The family will also work with psychologists.