MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) – Yulia Kuzmina, the biological mother of a Russian adoptee who died in Texas last month, was taken off a train in northern Russia for “drunk debauchery” on Friday, regional officials said.
The story debunks Kuzmina’s claims, made on national television, that she has changed her lifestyle enough to be given back her other son, adopted by the same family in the United States that is now in the limelight in connection with the death of his brother.
Kuzmina and her boyfriend got drunk on their way from Moscow to their native Pskov Region and had to be detained by police, a spokeswoman for the regional administration told RIA Novosti, describing their behavior as “drunk debauchery.”
Kuzmina’s boyfriend accused her of infidelity, starting an argument that was fueled by whiskey and soon spiraled into verbal abuse and, eventually, a fight, Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported.
Kuzmina, 23, denied the story when contacted by RIA Novosti, but the report about her behavior was corroborated by train officials and local police.
The woman, the biological mother of Kirill and Maxim Kuzmin, two and three years old, respectively, was stripped of parental rights in 2011 due to negligence and drinking problems.
The boys were adopted late last year by Texan natives Alan and Laura Shatto. But on January 21, Maxim – whose name was changed to Max Shatto – was found dead in the street.
The death was first reported in Russia on Monday by the country’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, who alleged that the boy’s adoptive mother drugged and beat him to death.
The claim raised a flurry of outrage among Russian officials, who had banned adoptions by US parents in January following the US Magnitsky Act, which introduced last year sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights violations.
However, US authorities questioned Astakhov’s reports of the incident, saying the inquiry into the boy’s death is still ongoing. The ombudsman later admitted the boy’s death was not necessarily murder, though he still accused the Shattos of negligence.
Kuzmina said on Rossiya One television on Thursday that she gave up drinking and wants the surviving boy back.
However, even before the reports of her “debauchery,” the Russian media questioned the story of her reformation.
“She drinks away whatever stuff she comes by, hasn’t worked a single day and is not fit to raise a child,” her unnamed neighbors told Gazeta.ru news website.
Nevertheless, the Russian State Duma on Friday voted unanimously in support of requesting the US Congress to help bring Kirill Kuzmin to Russia – though not necessarily to Kuzmina – “over concerns for his safety.”
The ban on US adoptions is a highly politicized issue in Russia, with critics claiming it is exploiting children for political gain and supporters insisting it is aimed at saving Russian children from possible abuse by US adoptive parents whose treatment of adoptees is hard to monitor.
US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said in a blog post on Thursday that he was “troubled” by the way Maxim Kuzmin’s death was presented in Russian media and urged an end to “sensational exploitations of human tragedy.”
At least 19 of an estimated 60,000 Russian children adopted in the United States since the early 1990s have died due to actions of their US parents, Russian officials said.
About 300 children adopted by Russian families died every year between 2009 and 2011, though no statistics are available on the causes of death, Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina said on Thursday.