MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – A woman identified as the mother of a Russian child who officials in Moscow say was “brutally killed” by his adoptive US parent has appealed to President Vladimir Putin to bring her second son home.
Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, tweeted on Monday that three-year-old Maxim Kuzmin had been murdered by his adoptive mother in the state of Texas, although he later admitted the investigation into the child’s death has not yet been completed.
He also said the boy had a two-year-old brother in the same family, who was in the care of social services as the authorities carried out their probe.
Astakhov’s tweet fueled a row over a recent Kremlin ban on US nationals adopting Russian children, adopted hot on the heels of a law passed in the United States that introduces sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses.
“I want to appeal to the president, the state prosecutor and Pavel Astakhov to take my second son away from those adoptive parents,” said a woman, named as Yulia Kuzmina, in a video posted on the website of the online Russian tabloid Life News. “I want to make things right.”
Her eyes brimming with tears, Kuzmina said she had not been aware that her children were living in the United States. She admitted that an alcohol problem had driven social services to take her children away – Maxim in September 2011 and Kirill “six months later.”
Astakhov, a vocal supporter of Russia’s adoption ban, confirmed on Wednesday that Kuzmina had contacted him.
“She has found work, changed her asocial way of life and wants to restore her parental rights,” said Astakhov.
Russian social services officials said on Tuesday they would seek to deprive Maxim and Kirill Kuzmin’s US adoptive parents of their parental rights.
Maxim Kuzmin’s death has been seized upon by supporters of the adoption ban, which sparked a fierce debate within Russia when it came into force on January 1. Russia’s parliament, which voted almost unanimously in favor of the bill, observed a minute of silence in Kuzmin’s honor on Tuesday.
The head of the State Duma’s committee on foreign affairs, Alexei Pushkov, said on Tuesday that Kuzmin’s death meant the issue of the adoption ban was “closed.”
Kuzmin’s death has been among the lead items on Russian state television since the news broke, with dramatic reports stating conclusively that the boy was “killed.”
Three opinion polls published in December and January indicated that between one half and three quarters of Russians support the US adoption ban, findings that contrasted sharply with earlier polls that showed much less opposition to US adoptions.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that it did not consider it necessary to introduce a blanket ban on foreign adoptions.
Putin’s spokesmen, Dmitry Peskov, said Russian officials face problems with their attempts to track the development and fortunes of Russian adoptees only in the United States.
“We do not face this problem in other countries,” he said.
According to US State Department figures, more than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans over the past two decades. Of those, Russian officials say 20 were killed as a result of their American parents’ actions.