Russia demands boy's return in US adoption row
Pavel Astakhov ... accused adoptive mother of murder. Photo: AFP
MOSCOW: Russia has insisted that a two-year-old boy adopted in the United States be returned after the death of his brother, threatening a diplomatic row with Washington.
Russia's children's rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, said Kirill Kuzmin, known to his adoptive parents as Kristopher, must be removed from Gardendale, Texas, and sent back to Russia.
Mr Astakhov claimed earlier this week that Kirill's brother Maxim, or Max Alan Shatto, three, had been killed by the two boys' adoptive US mother last month. He claimed she beat the child and pumped him full of anti-schizophrenia drugs.
The ombudsman has since admitted that the cause of the boy's death is not yet known, but the announcement triggered a frenzy in Moscow, where politicians rushed to condemn the US for "assassinating another Russian child".
Mr Astakhov raised the stakes on Wednesday, saying he had received a letter from the biological mother of the two boys saying she wanted Kirill back "so that he didn't get murdered like his brother".
The woman, who lost her children because of a drink problem, was shown on the website of a newspaper with strong government links pleading for President Vladimir Putin to intervene.
"I've changed my ways, I can't allow my second child to also perish," she said.
Russia would insist on Kirill being returned to his homeland, Mr Astakhov said. "Whether it happens or not will depend on how persistent we are," he added. "He is a Russian citizen. Besides his relatives, there is already a whole queue of people wishing to adopt him."
Laura and Alan Shatto, the US couple who adopted the two boys, have refused to comment on the case.
Mr Putin approved a ban on Americans adopting Russian children in December, citing the deaths of 19 adopted Russian children in the US in the past decade.
Police and child protection workers in Texas have said allegations of abuse against Maxim are being investigated. They expressed concern that Russian officials accused the adoptive mother before autopsy results were received.