KIEV, August 20 (RIA Novosti) – The United States has confirmed that three people were arrested on suspicion of cruelty to their adopted Ukrainian children, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
US media reported earlier this week that Lev Dzyuba, 37, and his sisters 20-year-old Alina Dzyuba and 26-year-old Natalia Mellon, had been arrested and charged with child cruelty and false imprisonment in Rockdale County, Georgia.
Dzyuba is an ordinary Ukrainian last name, but it was not immediately clear whether the suspect did in fact have Ukrainian ancestry.
“The US side has confirmed the arrest of Lev Dzyuba and his sisters. … It’s now up to the court to decide whether their actions constitute a crime,” said Yevhen Perebyinis, director of the information policy department at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
“The adopted children have been taken into protective custody by Georgian social services,” he said, adding that the children had no physical injuries and their lives were not in danger.
A Ukrainian Embassy employee will reportedly travel to Georgia to give an assessment of the children’s health and living conditions.
A family member of Lev Dzyuba, Lacya Kucheryavaya, told television channel Fox 5 that Dzyuba and his wife had adopted three Ukrainian children a year ago. Shortly afterward, Dzyuba's wife died of cancer, and his two sisters took care of the children and homeschooled them.
According to media reports, the children – two boys and a girl – were deprived of food and the ability to leave their rooms. Kucheryavaya said the accusations were a big misunderstanding because “Lev would not do anything out of the ordinary or extreme."