Print options

February 23, 2013

Russia Urges Restraint Over Adoptee Death

by Dan Peleschuk

The Kremlin has urged Russian officials to temper their emotions over the death in Texas last month of Max Shatto, a three-year-old born in Russia who was adopted by an American couple. Published reports in Russia have suggested the child was mistreated and possibly murdered by his adoptive parents.

In comments to the Dozhd television network late Friday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was inappropriate to consider Shatto’s death a murder before Texas officials complete their investigation.

He did, however, acknowledge that state medical investigators found bruises on Shatto’s body, and expressed hope that officials would soon determine the cause.

Peskov’s comments arrived after a week of sensational statements on the case by Russian officials. Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on Tuesday against Shatto’s mother Laura, a day after Russian ombudsman for children Pavel Astakhov claimed she had physically abused Shatto, whose birth name is Maxim Kuzmin.

The episode also dragged into the mix U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who expressed dismay on his blog earlier this week over Russian media coverage of the event. McFaul urged an end to what he said were the “sensational exploitations of human tragedy.”

Texas medical examiners have not yet completed a full autopsy to determine the exact cause of Shatto’s January 21 death.

Russia banned the adoption of its children by American families late last year over what officials say is the systemic abuse of Russian adoptees by their American parents.