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The Khachaturyan sisters killed their father. But thousands say they shouldn't go to prison.

Maria, Angelina and Krestina Khachaturyan spent their childhoods in fear, scared of the wrath of their violent, abusive father who made their lives hell.

They were beaten daily, sexually abused and shot at with an airgun, court filings as reported by AFP show.

The sisters refused to go to police fearing the ramifications and would beg their school friends to keep the violence a secret.

In 2016, one of the girls tried to take her own life but was saved by her sisters.

Moscow court considers extending Khachaturyan sisters' house arrest
Maria (L) and Angelina (R), two of the three Khachaturyan teen sisters charged with their father's murder (pictured with their lawyer). Image: Sergei KarpukhinTASS via Getty Images.

But in July 2018, the sisters snapped and decided if they didn't act soon, one of them would die.

It was a summer evening in Russia's Moscow when Mikhail Khachaturyan decided his living room wasn't clean enough.

He summoned his daughters, and one by one sprayed them in the face with pepper spray.

The punishment left the eldest Krestina unconscious.

The teenagers waited until their dad fell asleep in his rocking chair and attacked him with a kitchen knife and a hammer. He put up a fight but died within minutes.

The sisters, who were 17, 18, and 19 at the time of the killing and have confessed to their parts in it, have been charged with murder.

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Sidenote... Here are the hidden domestic violence numbers in Australia. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

The sisters are currently on trial, and if found guilty Angelina and Krestina could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison. With the youngest sister Maria being 17 at the time of attack, and therefore a child, she has a maximum punishment of 10 years.

Prosecutors do acknowledge the extraordinary violent circumstances that pushed the girls to kill their father, however insist this was premeditated murder with their motive being revenge.

The sisters' lawyers maintain their attack was an act of self-defence against the father's physical and sexual abuse, which the investigation has confirmed the sisters were victims of ever since 2014.

According to the BBC, the Russian criminal code acknowledges self-defence can occur in instances of "continuous crime", and not just in those where their safety is at immediate risk. Hence, proving the three sisters were victims of "continuous crime", the defence team are trusting the case will be dropped.

The case of the Khachaturyan sisters has sparked outrage in Russia, with more than 300,000 people signing an online petition urging prosecutors to drop the murder charges.

Earlier this year hundreds gathered beside the headquarters of the Investigative Committee in Moscow with signs that read "necessary self defence cannot be a crime".

The supporters of the sisters tried to organise a rally in July, however the city refused to provide security for the gathering.

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The Khachaturyan case is indicative of how domestic violence is treated in Russia.

The country doesn't have dedicated laws that protects victims of domestic violence and two years ago decriminalised domestic battery for first-time offenders. Reports of domestic violence sharply declined as a result.

Of the 2,500 women who were convicted of manslaughter or murder from 2016 to 2018 in Russia, nearly 2000 killed a family member in a domestic violence setting, according to data compiled by Media Zona.

One of the girl's lawyers has slammed the prosecutors case as "strange".

"The investigation was silent that the trigger that day was the bullying... the girls were scared and, as experts confirmed, they feared for their lives. These facts and the conclusions of the experts were specifically ignored as they confirm the girls were in a state of necessary defence," Alexei Parshin wrote on Facebook.

In the year before the attack, the girls attended less than two months of classes in total, and yet the school administration asked no questions and did not interfere.

Despite the charges hanging over their heads Mr Parshin says the sisters are in good spirits.

“The first day we met, she [Krestina] said she’s better off here, in jail, than living at home the way she had been," Mr Parshin told AFP.

"At least, no one is beating them up," he added.

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