Russian Adoptee ‘Victim of Big Politics’

MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) – The investigation into the death of a 3-year-old adopted Russian boy in the United States earlier this year was hampered by overriding political concerns, Russia’s child rights ombudsman suggested on Saturday, after US officials ruled his death was an accident.

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

Astakhov had earlier accused the child’s mother of “murdering” the boy after news of his January 21 death in Ector County, Texas and of giving him “psychotropic substances.”

But medical examiners in Ector County, Texas, where the boy – Max Shatto, also known as Maxim Kuzmin – died on January 21, 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.

Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said however that the investigation was not complete and they he could not rule out that criminal charges could be brought, although he did not characterize that possibility as likely.

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 boy’s death was seized upon by Moscow to justify a ban on US nationals adopting Russian children, which came into force on January 1, shortly after a US law known as the Magnitsky Act, which introduced US financial and travel restrictions on Russian officials deemed by the United States 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.

Astakhov also said on Saturday that Russian law enforcement agencies should demand access to all the case materials on the boy’s death.

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