Photos of Maria Babko have been constantly cropping up on social network pages in the winter of 2019 – indeed, the girl has become the icon of several community pages. Babko started her own Vkontakte and Instagram accounts where she talks with her subscribers. However, Internet popularity found her when she was still a child; specifically, when she became the victim of several pedophilia and child pornography cases, and her photos somehow leaked online.
In February 2019, photos of a girl called Maria Babko started appearing in many popular communities and on many social pages. MDK and Animemes are only two examples of public pages using her new photos as the background. But Babko is by no means a new acquaintance for the Russian Internet audience. Her popularity came to her quite against her will, when she was just 14. The girl was found to be the victim of multiple criminal cases connected with pedophilia, as well as making and distribution of child porn.
In November 2011, police in Novosibirsk detained Sergei Kropotchkin, 52, photographer, over alleged filming of pornographic videos featuring underage girls. Two and a half years later, the court found him guilty of 145 cases of violence.
Kporotchkin – who the children affectionately called Uncle Seriozha – filmed the videos in his rental apartment, advertising his studio exclusively to foreign customers as «Siberian Mouse» (or «1st studio»). He shared the paychecks with the girls.
In an interview Maria Babko gave to journalists, she said the became acquainted with the photographer back when she was 10. He was detained shortly before her twelfth birthday.
As fas as I know, there was a girl who invited her friend to the video shoot. As it turned out, the father of that friend of hers was a police officer. When he found out that she had money he never gave to her personally, she revealed to him where she got it. When they detained that man, I believe even the OMON Special Police Force was present. This is a rumor I heard from the other girls. We went on a walk once, and Tanya suddenly approached me and said, ‘He was arrested, that’s it, now we’re f****d.’ I felt my heart sink.
In the end, Kropotchkin was sentenced for 14 years in maximum-security penal colony, but many of his photos, videos and screenshots made it to the Internet, inexplicably.
Even now, no one is sure how all that stuff leaked online. Many said back then that the police dumped it because they had it. Others said the customers did it. Everyone was terribly afraid of their parents finding out, but when it all surfaced online, we felt it was the end. The veil is cast, the life is doomed.
Despite the fact that distribution of child pornography is forbidden by law in Russia, screenshots and photos of the girl became the source of numerous ‘CP’-themed jokes and memes (CP stands for ‘Child Porn’ in English). Even now, you can still find some of these on 2ch.hk and in social media.
According to Babko herself, she became so popular simply because she starred in the most videos.
Why did I turn out so popular in the end? Because I received the most custom orders.
Naturally, one cannot lead normal modern life in isolation from the Internet and all that gets posted there, so other children began bullying the girl.
The worst part came later. My worst life period was between 12 and 16 years, after all that stuff made it to the Internet. Finding new friends was impossible. No one suspected a thing before the photos and the videos leaked, because all court hearings were strictly private. … Most of the offenders were the boys. The girls usually just said something along the lines of ‘whore’ or ‘prostitute’. It was the boys who acted aggressively, humiliated and bullied me. It was psychological abuse, in a way.
Maria admits she has tried to commit suicide three times because of all the bullying both in real life and in the social networks. She had to change school five times and eventually also abandon the college. The broad public never suspected anything about the girl’s suffering all along.
Not long before she turned 20, Maria decided to return to the online world and started actively maintaining her social pages using her real full name. She registered a new Vkontakte account and a new Instagram page, where she often shares photos from her various normal photo sessions.
According to Maria, she simply grew tired of having to hide herself and her face at all times. After creating the pages, she accepted the proposal from the MDK community to participate in its merchandise photo shoot.
Next thing on Maria’s schedule is moving permanently to Moscow, from where she is already posting heaps of photos. Her other ambitions include getting an education and becoming a psychologist.
I have many ideas. For one, I would like to become a psychologist, help other girls and boys, people who have been through similar experiences. I have been looking into how this kind of help is provided in the Western countries, I have watched numerous such films, and read books about violence and how people cope with it.
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