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Birth mix-up families win £62,000

Two Russian families have won £62,000 compensation each from a maternity home that accidentally switched their 12-year old daughters at birth.

They may use the money to house the girls next to each other.

The story has captivated Russia ever since the families learned recently about the switch after the former husband of Yuliya Belyayeva refused to support their daughter, Irina, because she did not look like him.

A DNA test revealed that neither of them were Irina's parent. An official investigation tracked down Irina's biological father, Naimat Iskanderov, who had been raising Mrs Belyayeva's own child, Anna.

She laughed with joy after the judge delivered the verdict in a courtroom in Kopeisk in Russia's Ural Mountains, but Mr Iskanderov remained stony-faced.

Mrs Belyayeva caressed her biological daughter, Anna, while Irina, whom she raised, sat stern-faced on a sofa, here eyes down. "She feels jealous," Mrs Belyayeva said.

It was not clear whether Mrs Belyayeva had married again after separating from her husband. Mr Iskanderov parted with his wife when Anna was five but later married again.

Anna strongly resembled her biological mother while dark-haired and dark-eyed Irina looked like her ethnic Tajik father.

Despite the verdict, Mrs Belyayeva said she will still struggle to overcome the feeling of shock over the inadvertent swap. "The money just can't ease the pain," she said. "All the money in the world isn't worth a child's look at mother ... There are moments when I think it would have been better if I hadn't known anything about that."

The girls apparently do not want to leave the parents who raised them, so the families are thinking of using the compensation money, which is huge by Russian standards, to get houses close to each other or even share a home.

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