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Russia investigates adopted boy's death

Russia investigates adopted boy's death

Russian investigators have opened an inquiry into the death of an adopted 3-year-old boy in the US in a case that could aggravate a row with Washington over adoptions in Russia.
Russian officials said they are concerned that Maxim Shatto, whose Russian name was Maxim Kuzmin, may have been badly beaten before his death on January 21 in his home in Texas.
Moscow seized on the case as justifying a new law banning adoptions of Russian children by Americans, a measure that has escalated a tit-for-tat row with Washington over trade and human rights.
"I would like to draw your attention to yet another case of inhumane treatment of a Russian child adopted by American parents," Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian foreign ministry's human rights representative, said in a statement.
Shatto was adopted with his younger brother Kirill from an orphanage in Pskov in northwest Russia.
The US said the circumstances surrounding the boy's death were under investigation, and the results of an autopsy were pending, according to the Ector County Sheriff's office.
Texas child welfare authorities were also investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in the case, a process that can take a month or more, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins said on Tuesday.
Crimmins said one of the main priorities was ensuring the safety of the boy's 2-year-old brother, who remains in the home.
Russia's Investigative Committee, a government body in charge of criminal investigations, has opened 10 investigations into actions suspected of "threatening the lives and health" of Russian-born children in the US.
"The Investigative Committee will take all necessary measures to ensure that the killer of a Russian child suffers the most severe punishment," it said in a statement.
In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it was local law enforcement's responsibility to investigate the boy's death.
The US has previously refused to hand over data to Russian investigators, and the two countries do not have bilateral extradition agreements, meaning the Russian probe is likely to be purely symbolic.
Russia banned US adoptions as of January 1 in retaliation for the US Magnitsky Act, drawn up over concern about the death in a Russian prison of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.
(Agencies)

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