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Kremlin’s Child Advocate ‘Upset’ As US Parents Cleared

© RIA Novosti . Vladimir Viatkin / Go to the mediabankPavel Astakhov
Pavel Astakhov - Sputnik International
Russia’s child rights ombudsman criticized on Tuesday the decision by Texas prosecutors not to charge the adoptive parents of a Russian toddler who died suddenly in January.

MOSCOW, March 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s child rights ombudsman and Foreign Ministry criticized on Tuesday the decision by Texas prosecutors not to charge the adoptive parents of a Russian toddler who died suddenly in January.

“The Texas prosecutors’ position in the case of Maxim Kuzmin is upsetting, because they refused to scrutinize the circumstances of his death,” ombudsman Pavel Astakhov tweeted.

Prosecutors in Ector County, Texas, said Monday that Alan and Laura Shatto, the adoptive parents of Max Shatto (also known under his Russian name Maxim Kuzmin) would not face charges as there was no evidence that either of them had committed a crime.

“This position of the Texas prosecutor contradicts the original information provided by the sheriff, the social services, as well as statements from the adoptive father and doctors,” Astakhov wrote.
Three-year-old Max Shatto died on January 21, almost three months after he and his younger brother were adopted from a Russian orphanage in the Pskov region.

Astakhov had earlier publicly accused the adoptive mother of killing the boy and giving him “psychotropic substances.”

The death came just weeks after Russia enacted a ban on Americans adopting Russian children. Russian officials blame American adoptive parents for the deaths of 20 Russian children in the United States.

The ban was part of Russian legislation passed shortly after Washington adopted the so-called Magnitsky Act, which introduced sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said the Magnitsky Act had triggered the adoption ban.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said Tuesday that the decision of the decision of US prosecutors “raises serious questions.”

“It turns out that the child died, but the adoptive parents are not guilty. Furthermore, they are trying to convince us that the boy inflicted the fatal injuries on himself,” Dolgov said.

Texas medical officials said earlier this year that Shatto/Kuzmin had a history of “self-injury.”

He added that Russia hopes US officials will grant Russian diplomats access to the dead boy’s brother, Kirill, who is still living with the adoptive family. Russian officials have been calling for the child’s repatriation to Russia.

Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) is still investigating Max Shatto’s death, Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland told RIA Novosti on Monday.

“We can’t say for sure what caused the death, but… this is not consistent with being hit with a fist or kicked. Most likely he fell from the playground equipment or the glider struck him in the stomach. It would not have taken much force to cause this particular injury to the child,” Bland said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is also probing the incident, which sparked an emotional debate in Russia, with marches both for and against the ban.

(Updates earlier version of the story with the Foreign Ministry's comments)

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