MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) – Russia vowed on Thursday to bring to trial American citizens it alleges have evaded punishment for “serious crimes” against Russian adoptees, the country’s chief investigator said.
“We intend to prosecute all those US nationals who have not been properly punished for serious crimes against Russian children on US territory,” said Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee, an FBI-style law enforcement agency.
He said Russia would place all those people concerned on the international wanted list and seek to have them arrested in absentia by Russian courts.
Russian officials have criticized investigations into the deaths of Russian adoptees in the United States and alleged that courts hand down softer punishments for crimes against children from Russia.
Bastrykhin’s pledge comes amid a growing row over the death of a three-year-old Russian child in the United States. Russian officials say the boy, Maxim Kuzmin, was murdered by his US adoptive mother in Ector County, Texas.
Russia’s child rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov tweeted on Monday that Kuzmin, also known by his US name Max Shatto, had “numerous injuries” and had been given powerful “psychotropic substances” by his adoptive mother.
However, the Ector County sheriff, Mark Donaldson, said he had “no idea where that information came from.”
“We don’t have any other information right now, until the autopsy report comes in,” he told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
Astakhov’s accusation whipped up a storm of outrage in Russia, with nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the LDPR party, alleging Americans adopted Russian children to “torment” them, in comments aired on state-run television earlier this week.
The incident also fuelled 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.