Russia – Online trolls told a Russian mother to kill her one-month-old baby because she has a birthmark covering 80% of her body.
Maria Khvostantseva, 22, said she was abused online after speaking out against a local priest who refused to baptise her daughter because he believed she was contagious.
She said she took a picture of her baby girl Vika to a priest in the city of Kurgan in west-central Russia’s Kurgan Oblast, but he turned her away.
But Maria broke down during an interview on local television when she revealed how online trolls who read about her daughter told her to throw her baby under a train.
She said: ‘I got tonnes of messages and phone calls from strangers. They were insulting me and urging to kill my baby.
‘A woman said to me by phone “kill your child. Throw it under a train”.’
One of the vile messages Maria received read: ‘It’s better to die than to be like that.’
Another read: ‘You should put it under acid rain.’
Russian police have opened an investigation into the alleged abuse following the mother’s TV interview.
Maria said that Vika – who is now six months old – still faces attacks in the street and that when she was born, a midwife told her to give the baby up for adoption.
She said: ‘People often point their fingers at Vika and laugh. I am very upset because of that.’
Vika’s birthmark covers 80% of her tiny body
Soon after birth, Vika was diagnosed with large congenital melanocytic nevi, an abnormally dark, noncancerous skin patch that is composed of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.
Congenital nevi are common and usually harmless but there is a risk of skin cancer in cases where the birthmark is larger than two or three inches.
Her story became public after she posted on social media about her treatment by the priest.
Maria said the unnamed priest refused to baptise Vika because he did not know if the birthmark was contagious or how other parents would react.
He reportedly offered to baptise the tot in private but said he would charge 4,000 RUB (around £50) for the privilege.
Maria wrote online: ‘I don’t think it should cost that much to baptise a child. For now, we decided to postpone it.’
Mikhail Nasonov, a spokesperson for Kurgan Orthodox Church where it is understood the priest works, told local media: ‘We plan to conduct an internal investigation following the incident.
‘The priest in question will face disciplinary action. We condemn what happened.
‘I am sure if the mother goes to the church again, the ceremony will be held this time.’
Maria remains defiant despite the abuse she has received. She said: ‘My baby is beautiful and very much loved by her family.
‘My son says “Vika was kissed by the sun”.’