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US Official Warns Against Assumptions In Russian Boy's Death

A spokeswoman for the U.S. government has called the death in Texas of a three-year-old boy adopted from Russia a "terrible tragedy," but warned against making any assumptions about the case before police have completed their investigation.

At a regular press briefing Tuesday, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. State Department has been in contact with Russian diplomats both in Houston, Texas, and in Washington to facilitate their communication with state and local authorities in Texas.

Nuland said the United States takes very seriously the welfare of children, especially those who have been adopted from other countries. She warned that no one should make assumptions about last month's death of the Russian-adopted boy Max Shatto.



"But none of us - not here, not anywhere in the world - should jump to a conclusion about the circumstances until the police have had a chance to investigate. There have been very strong assertions made from Moscow. We are going to wait until the investigation is complete. It's obviously a tragedy that this child has passed."



Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case Tuesday against the U.S. mother, Laura Shatto, who adopted the boy. Russian investigators say they believe she is responsible for the boy's death.

Russia has said that Russian adoptees are frequently abused in the United States. It banned the adoption of its children in the U.S. last year, after the United States passed a law imposing travel and economic sanctions on Russian citizens believed to be involved in human rights abuses.

Nuland said Russian children whose adoption was approved before the law was passed -- about 50 of them -- will still come to the U.S. as soon as their documentation is completed.

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