Texas Officials Rule Adopted Russian Boy’s Death ‘Accidental’

Officials in the U.S. state of Texas have ruled that the death of 3-year-old Russian adoptee Max Shatto was accidental.

Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said four doctors who reviewed the boy’s autopsy agreed Shatto’s death was “the result of an accident.”

His death has caused furor in Russia, where officials recently backed a ban on adoptions by U.S. parents and quickly accused the child’s mother, Laura, of drugging and “murdering” him.

Officials have cited the case as they dismiss criticism of Moscow’s politically charged ban on U.S. adoptions, which was a response to U.S. legislation punishing Russia for perceived rights abuses in the Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

From Ector County, Bland told RFE/RL that Shatto died from a “lacerated artery” due to blunt force trauma in his abdomen and had no drugs in his system.

Bland said the finding did not rule out that there would be charges filed in the case.

Shatto, born Maksim Kuzmin, allegedly collapsed outside his family’s home in rural Gardendale, Texas on January 21. He died later the same day at a nearby hospital.

Bland said doctors concluded that bruises on Shatto’s body appeared to be self-inflicted, due to a “behavior disorder” that the child had.

The Texas-based Gladney Center, which facilitated the adoption, said in a statement it was “pleased” that the investigation had not indicated any wrongdoing on its part.

The Russian consul general in Houston, Aleksandr Zakharov, said he wanted to see the official report from authorities before commenting. 

With additional reporting by AP, AFP, and Interfax

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