MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) – The United States Department of Justice will inform Russia of the circumstances surrounding the controversial death of a three-year-old Russian adoptee, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office said on Thursday.
Prosecutor General’s Office officials have spoken with the Sheriff’s office in Ector County, Texas, where three-year-old Maxim Kuzmin died in late January of causes that have yet to be established, spokeswoman Marina Grindeva said.
“They are waiting for the results of the autopsy,” she added.
Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, tweeted on Monday that Kuzmin had been murdered by his adoptive US mother, although he later admitted the investigation into the child’s death has not yet been completed.
He also said the child had been given powerful “psychotropic substances” and badly beaten before his death, which reportedly occurred on January 21.
The accusation whipped up a storm of outrage in Russia, with nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovksy, 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.
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 foreign affairs committee, 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.”