PSKOV, December 23 (RAPSI) – A Russian court has annulled an American family’s adoption of a 2-year-old boy whose older brother died in the United States.
The Pskov Regional Court declared illegal the adoption of Kirill Kuzmin by Alan and Laura Shatto, following an application by the Pskov Regional Social Security Department.
The boy’s older brother Maxim died at the age of 3 while playing in the backyard of his Texas home on January 21. Texas investigators said the boy’s death – from a ruptured artery in his abdomen – was accidental, and a grand jury declined to indict either of the parents.
The Shattos adopted Maxim and his biological half-brother Kirill from the same orphanage in western Russia. Since the elder boy’s death, his brother has remained with his adoptive parents.
The department filed the suit to revoke the adoption after a criminal case was opened to investigate Maxim’s death and alleged violations by social agencies during the adoption of the Kuzmin brothers.
Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, claimed on his Twitter feed in February that Maxim had been given powerful “psychotropic substances” and had been badly beaten before he died in hospital.
An autopsy report showed that the boy had bruises on his body in various stages of healing at the time of his death. Four doctors who reviewed the results declared the death accidental and Texas authorities decided not to charge the adoptive parents.
Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, said that the case confirmed Russia’s doubts about the ability of US authorities to protect Russian children adopted by American families.
He cast doubt on the findings of the investigation into the boy’s death, saying: “Even a layman can conclude from the investigation materials that the injuries that led to the boy’s death could not have been self-inflicted.”
News of the boy’s death came weeks after President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning adoptions of Russian children by American families. The move followed concern about the safety of Russian children, at least 20 of whom have died in the care of their American families since the early 1990s.
But the ban is also widely seen as a response to Washington’s passage of the Magnitsky Act, introducing sanctions on Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses.