Russian Officials Rage as US Rules Adoptee’s Death ‘Accident’

MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian officials reacted with a mixture of anger and suspicion on Saturday after officials in the United States said the death of a 3-year-old Russian child in Texas was an accident.

Max Shatto, also known as Maxim Kuzmin, died on January 21 in Ector County, Texas, sparking anger in Russia, where his death was seized on to justify a recently introduced ban on US nationals adopting Russian children.

But Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland cited medical examiners on Friday as saying the boy’s death had been accidental.

“His bruises disappeared, the medicine vanished, his adoptive parents were acquitted and the authorities have backtracked,” Russia’s child rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, tweeted. “The 3-year-old boy became a victim of big politics.”

Astakhov had earlier accused the boy’s adoptive mother of murdering Shatto and feeding him “psychotropic substances.”

Medical examiners in Texas said on Friday they had found no sign of drugs in the boy’s system and added that bruises on his body were consistent with self-inflicted injuries.

The head of the Russian parliament’s security committee, Irina Yarovaya, cast doubt on the US investigation.

“The obvious contradictions and the mystery around the goings-on give serious cause not to trust this announcement,” Yarovaya told journalists, citing the length of the investigation and what she said was an attempt by US officials to keep the boy’s death a secret from Russia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also hit out at the United States.

“We again received reports in connection with Maxim Kuzmin’s death from the media, rather than official US representatives,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov.

Dolgov also said Moscow was demanding that US officials supply it with all the case materials related to the boy’s death.

Shatto/Kuzmin’s death made headlines in Russia and the country’s parliament observed a moment of silence in his honor earlier this month. Officials also demanded the United States return his 2-year-old brother to Russia.

The ban on US nationals adopting Russian children came into force on January 1, shortly after the adoption by the United States of a law known as the Magnitsky Act, which introduced US financial and travel restrictions on Russian officials deemed by Washington to have violated human rights.

That law was described in late January as a “trigger” for the adoption ban by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian officials later denied, however, there was a link.

Russia has long expressed concern over the treatment of Russian adoptees in the United States, where around 20 children have died in the care of their US families through negligence or domestic violence since 1991. US families have adopted some 60,000 children in that time.

Some 12,000 people, according to police, rallied in central Moscow on Saturday to urge the Kremlin to ban all foreign adoptions. 

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