Russia is seeking to repatriate the brother of a three-year-old boy who died in Texas after being adopted by a U.S. family, less than two months after Moscow banned all adoptions by Americans.
“We have every reason to demand the return of the boy to his homeland,” Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights, told reporters in Moscow today. “If adoptive parents have committed a crime, we are entitled to demand the child come home.”
The toddler died on Jan. 21 after an alleged fatal beating by his adoptive American mother. He and his two-year-old brother were adopted at the end of last year from an orphanage in the Pskov region in the country’s northwest. Astakhov said he had been asked by the boys’ biological mother to help get the child back to Russia. The woman says she has found a job and stopped her “antisocial lifestyle,” according to Astakhov.
Russia passed legislation in December barring U.S. adoptions in retaliation for American sanctions over the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who’d alleged a $230 million tax fraud by Russian officials. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans in the past 20 years, with 962 children adopted in 2011, about one in 10 U.S. international adoptions, according to the State Department.
Members of the ruling United Russia party accused opponents of the adoption legislation, called the Dima Yakovlev Law after a Russian boy who died in the U.S. in 2008 after being left in a car on a hot day, of being unpatriotic. President Vladimir Putin said Russian orphans should be adopted in their homeland.
Astakhov previously said Maxim’s adoptive mother had beaten him and given him heavy psychiatric drugs. Today he said he made the comments based on initial reports he received about the boy’s death.
The results of a medical autopsy aren’t yet known. Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he didn’t have details of the case, which he described as “a terrible tragedy,” according to a posting on his Twitter Inc. account.
Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office is aware of the “tragic situation,” according to a statement from his spokeswoman, Lucy Nashed, e-mailed today. The state’s Department of Family and Protective Services is working with law enforcement to investigate and continues to be in contact with the Russian consulate, she said.
Astakhov called for an inter-state register of orphaned Russian children who have been adopted in the U.S. to better monitor how they are treated. Russian children adopted over the past 20 years remain Russian citizens and can be repatriated, he said.
“There is a precedent for this,” he said.
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To contact the editor on this story: Frank Connelly at email@example.com