Topic: Maxim Kuzmin Case
WASHINGTON February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia confirmed Tuesday that its officials had visited a site in Texas in connection with the death there of a Russian toddler who died at an area hospital last month, but described the incident as an “accident” and voiced hope of continued work with local US authorities to clarify the circumstances of the tragedy.
“We can confirm that a senior diplomat from the Russian Embassy and a consular representative from the Russian Consulate General in Houston have visited the place of the accident and had an opportunity to talk to appropriate representatives of the local authorities,” the Russian Embassy in Washington said.
In a statement, the embassy said Russia had “the deepest concern” over the fate of three-year-old Max Shatto, known also by his Russian name Maxim Kuzmin, and said its diplomats had “evidence” that authorities in Ector County, Texas “are investigating circumstances of the tragedy.”
The language contained in the statement from the embassy contrasted with that used Monday by Russia’s child rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, who in a message sent out over his Twitter feed accused the child’s adoptive mother of murdering the boy.
“An adoptive mother has killed a three-year-old Russian child in the state of Texas,” Astakhov said in his tweet. “The murder occurred at the end of January,” he added.
Astakhov's assertion raised questions about how Russia had drawn such conclusions about the case given that it was still under investigation and local authorities said they had released no such information.
The Russian embassy statement however said Russia was awaiting results of the investigation and, in language qualifying the earlier accusation of murder, added that “if there is a criminal component to the child’s death, we expect those responsible to be severely punished.”
The embassy statement said Russian diplomats had spoken with the adoptive father of the boy but made no mention of contact with the mother.
Russian officials have accused US authorities of failing to facilitate their access to information about cases in which Russian children adopted by US parents have died or been mistreated, but the embassy statement also downplayed that aspect of this emotional dispute between the two countries.
“We received initial assistance from Ector County authorities and we would like to rely on continued cooperation to fully clarify all the circumstances of this tragedy,” the statement said.
At least 20 Russian children have died as a result of abuse or neglect by their adoptive American parents since the early 1990s and Russian officials say they have grown seriously alarmed by the treatment given to some Russian adoptees in the United States.
Moscow banned US citizens from adopting Russian children last month, in what some call a retaliatory measure against a US law imposing sanctions on Russian officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses.
Russia has said the ban is necessary to protect its children.
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