Kremlin casts doubt on ruling after Texas mother is cleared over death of adopted Russian son

  • Ector County Medical Examiner's office on Friday revealed that the death of Maxim Shatto, 3, was accidental
  • Little Max died on Jan. 21 after being adopted by a family in Texas
  • Russian authorities alleged he was abused by his adoptive mother and given psychiatric drugs
  • Texas officials believe the bruises found on his body were self-inflicted
  • Latest in ongoing battle between two counties over adoptions and death comes weeks after Russians banned all adoptions to Americans
  • American authorities investigating claims but no arrests have been made

By Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

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Russia officials voiced their skepticism on Saturday about the U.S. autopsy on a 3-year-old adopted Russian boy in Texas, demanding further investigation as thousands rallied in Moscow to support the Kremlin ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children.

Max Shatto's death in January, ruled accidental, came a month after Moscow passed a ban on international adoptions in retaliation for a new U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human rights violators.

Russian officials have pointed at Max's case to defend the ban, which has drawn strong public criticism and Russians took to the street in Moscow in a rally to support the government's measures to stop American adoptions.

The boy, born Maxim Kuzmin, died on Jan. 21 after his adoptive mother, Laura Shatto, told authorities she found him unresponsive outside their home where he had been playing with his younger brother.

Outrage

Outrage: Demonstrators hold portraits of adopted Russian children who have died in the U.S., during a massive rally in Moscow on Saturday

Protests

Protests: This woman holds a sign that reads 'Juvenile judiciary. Give us parents back!' Demonstrators walked along Moscow streets to support the new law prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by Americans

Rally

Rally: Activists from pro-Kremlin children's advocacy groups march through Moscow, demanding the return of an adopted boy whose brother, Max Shatto, died in Texas

‘I had four doctors agree that this is the result of an accident,’ he said. ‘We have to take that as fact.’

Konstantin Dolgov, Russian Foreign Ministry's Special Representative for Human Rights, said on Saturday that Moscow 'proceeds from the understanding that these are the preliminary results of the investigation' and urged U.S. authorities to produce autopsy documents and the boy's Russian passport.

 

Alan and Laura Shatto adopted Max and his half brother, two-year-old Kristopher, from an orphanage in western Russia this past fall.

Laura Shatto told authorities she found Max unresponsive outside their Gardendale, Texas, home while he was playing with his younger brother. The boy was pronounced dead a short time later.

Autopsy: The medical examiner ruled that the death of Max Shatto was an accident

Autopsy: The medical examiner ruled that the death of Max Shatto was an accident

Accused: Laura Shatto, right, is accused of beating little Max, right, to death last month
Accused: Laura Shatto, right, is accused of beating little Max, right, to death last month

Accused: Kremlin accused Laura Shatto, right, of beating little Max, left, to death in January

Keeping mum: The driveway to the Shatto family home, rear left, is seen in Gardendale, Texas, with a sign that reads: 'No Comment'

Keeping mum: The driveway to the Shatto family home, rear left, is seen in Gardendale, Texas, with a sign that reads: 'No Comment'

The Shatto's attorney, Michael J. Brown, said he agreed ‘with the conclusion that it was an accidental death and I've been saying it all along.’

‘This is not a surprise to me at all,’ he said.

The investigation into the boy's death continues, Bland said. Once investigators complete their work, Bland will meet with them and decide whether to pursue charges such as negligent supervision or injury to a child by omission.

Russian authorities and state-run media have blamed the Shattos for Max's death and used the case as justification for a recently enacted ban on all American adoptions of Russian children.

Russia's Investigative Committee has said it has opened its own investigation. It's unclear whether the committee could charge the Shatto family or force their prosecution.

Alexander K. Zakharov, the Russian consul general in Houston, said he wanted to see an official report from authorities before commenting on Friday's announcement.

Tragedy: Max Shatto, 3, died last month after being adopted by a family in Texas. Russian authorities are claiming he was abused

Tragedy: Max Shatto, 3, died last month after being adopted by a family in Texas. Russian authorities are claiming he was abused

Maxim was born the town of Pskov, near Russia's western border with Estonia. The boy lived with a family in Gardendale, Texas with his family before his death

Russian born: Maxim was born the town of Pskov, near Russia's western border with Estonia. The boy lived with a family in Gardendale, Texas with his family before his death

U.S. State Department officials and adoption agency advocates have called for caution.

The Russian government passed the ban in December in retaliation for a new U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators.

 The ban also reflects lingering resentment over the perceived mistreatment of some of the 60,000 children Americans have adopted during the last two decades. At least 20 of those children have died, and reports of abuse have garnered attention in Russia.

Chuck Johnson, CEO of the Virginia-based National Council for Adoption, said an agreement ratified last year would have prevented the conditions that led to many deaths and abuse cases.

One change in particular would have required all adoptions to go through agencies licensed in Russia.

‘The deaths were terribly tragic, horrible,’ Johnson said in a February 19 interview. ‘But the frustrating thing has been that those cases have become the face of inter-country adoption, and they shouldn't be.’

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said Friday it found no violations at the Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth, the agency that processed the Shattos' adoption.

The state's Child Protective Services division is proceeding with a separate investigation into allegations that Max was subject to physical abuse and neglect, but has not determined whether those allegations are true.

Parents: The boy's adopted parents, Alan and Laura Shatto, denied knowing about the allegations being made by Russian authorities. No arrests have been made

Parents: The boy's adoptive parents, Alan and Laura Shatto, denied knowing about the allegations being made by Russian authorities. No arrests have been made

Tragic: The little boy, pictured right, was pronounced dead in hospital on Jan. 21

Sad: The little boy, pictured right, was pronounced dead in hospital on Jan. 21

Russian state media have featured the boys' biological mother, 23-year-old Yulia Kuzmina, who lost custody over negligence and addiction to alcohol.

In a tightly choreographed February 21 interview on state television, Kuzmina insisted Russian child services officials seized her sons without her knowledge and said she wanted to be reunited with her other son, born Kirill Kuzmin.

She said she had given up drinking, found a job and pledged to fight to get the boy back for fear that if he stayed with his adoptive Texas family, he too will die like his brother. .

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has said it is necessary ‘to temper emotions’ over the case.

On his part, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has called for ‘sensational exploitations of human tragedy to end and for professional work between our two countries to grow, on this issue and many others.’

Max's tragic death has received international attention in the wake of a recent Russian ban on all American adoptions.

Russia's Investigative Committee said that it had opened an investigation into the little boy's death.

'Three-year-old Maxim was beaten, according to the investigators, by his adoptive mother, who fed him psychoactive drugs over a long period of time, saying that he had some psychiatric illness,' said Pavel Astakhov, the Russian Children's Rights Commissioner alleges, according to The Telegraph.

Plea: In a tightly choreographed interview, Max's biological mother, 23-year-old Yulia Kuzmina, tearfully appealed to President Putin to have her surviving son returned to her

Plea: In a tightly choreographed interview, Max's biological mother, 23-year-old Yulia Kuzmina, tearfully appealed to President Putin to have her surviving son returned to her

Accusations: Pavel Astakho has alleged that Maxim was beaten to death by his American mother. American authorities have not confirmed the allegations are still investigating

Accusations: Pavel Astakho has alleged that Maxim was beaten to death by his American mother. American authorities have not confirmed the allegations are still investigating

He said the toddler had numerous bruises on his body and damage to organs.

'Our consuls must be allowed to see the materials of the case and take part in the formulation of the prosecution,' he added.

Texas Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins confirmed the agency had received a report on Jan. 21 of the death of a three-year-old named Max Shatto, and that the Ector County Sheriff's Office in West Texas was investigating.

Crimmins said CPS had received allegations of physical abuse and neglect, but had not determined whether those allegations were true.

An obituary for Max Shatto published Jan. 26 by the Midland Reporter-Telegram says he was born on Jan. 9, 2010, in the town of Pskov, near Russia's western border with Estonia.

The boy lived with a family in Gardendale, about 350 miles west of Dallas, before his death on Jan. 21, according to the obituary.

On the funeral home's website, Max's parents wrote: 'Max, you were not with us long enough to leave fingerprints on the walls but you left fingerprints upon our hearts.

Look of love: Alan Shatto embraces his son, Maxim, in this photo. Max's parents wrote in his obituary, 'When we get to Heaven, we know we will hear your sweet voice singing with the angels. We love you and will always miss you'

Look of love: Alan Shatto embraces his son, Maxim, in this photo. Max's parents wrote in his obituary, 'When we get to Heaven, we know we will hear your sweet voice singing with the angels. We love you and will always miss you'

Timing: Max's death comes weeks after Russian authorities announced it was banning all adoptions by Americans

Timing: Max's death comes weeks after Russian authorities announced it was banning all adoptions by Americans

'When we get to Heaven, we know we will hear your sweet voice singing with the angels. We love you and will always miss you.'

The death comes weeks after Russia announced it was banning all American adoptions in retaliation for a new U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators.

The ban also reflects lingering resentment over the 60,000 Russian children adopted by Americans in the past two decades, of which at least 19 have died.

Russian Foreign Ministry official Konstantin Dolgov said in a statement that the boy's death was 'yet another case of inhuman treatment of a Russian child adopted by American parents.'

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

I agree that the photo with the caterpillar makes his eyes look red, but I think it's just a camera effect like red eye. He's in another photo in the same clothes and his eyes look normal, as they do in the photo with the cut near his eye more healed. He looks like he has FAS, as many posters have noticed, which often causes ADHD, coordination problems, cardiovasculer problems as well as problems to the eyes. This may explain the red effect, the internal bleeding, poor impulse control and his bumps and bruises. The ADHD may also explain why two elderly adoptive parents put 2 such young boys outside on their own, but it doesn't excuse it, and if his brother has the same issues, it wouldn't just be his own impulsiveness that could lead to injury, but that of his brothers. The parents should have been more careful, and Russia need to stop giving vunerable children to adoptive parents that don't know what they've let themselves in for, and won't be able to cope.

Click to rate     Rating   48

These Russian folks taking to the streets in protest should adopt their country's orphans themselves........problem solved. It takes an afternoon to protest....a whole lot more true concern to step up and adopt a child yourself. Now, all the children in the bare orphanages can just settle in and get no chance of a family.

Click to rate     Rating   137

Janka, Reading, UK ......You're right he does look to have blood in the whites of his eyes in the photo of him with the caterpillar. My teenage son's eye was like that a couple of weeks ago after being hit in the face with a rugby ball. It does look odd doesn't it?

Click to rate     Rating   56

Lynzey Toronto Canada - It is disgusting to refer to a child as damaged goods.

Click to rate     Rating   78

Has anyone else noticed the poor mite has all 3 of the facial characteristics of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome? RIP little one, you were let down so many times by the adults who should have taken care of you.

Click to rate     Rating   158

It's a bit late for the natural mother to start bleating now,why did she not take care of her own kids in the first place.Thats right,she was a drug addict and an alcoholic..

Click to rate     Rating   178

Brock O Lee, it is difficult not only for Americans but for Russians as well, to scratch out an alright perfectly child from our large, huge, state orphanages system. The reason is these institutions are state financed by head, per child kept, and for each one they get paid 60 thousand roubles a month flat, plus extra expenses. It is 4 times' average Russian monthlrazy salary per child in an orphanage, idiotic arangement, children in own families rarely get such money spent on them by own parents. That is why these orphanages fight tooth and nail to give a child away, crazy system, and to get a healthy one out it's bribes and bribes and bribes, be you Russian or American.

Click to rate     Rating   53

After all, it's so many new things for him in just several last months. A new big house, I see two dogs in the photos, many new toys, that whole play-ground, all new rules of life - and nobody speaks Russian. Usually, Russian children are capable and quite survivors. May be just too much of everything. at once.

Click to rate     Rating   27

I got teacher's diploma in last days of USSR, the programme still included 1 year of compulsory study of first aid, medical nurse sort of, qualifications. With the idea that children can do anything any moment and a teacher must be able to help before an ambulance comes. if ever. From what I remember, children can stuff pebbles into their noses and suffocate, swallow most strange objects, open up windows and fall out, try scissors on electric wires, get biten by wasps, develop allergic swells on any thing eaten, mis-place ankles, get heat strokes, finally - just open class-room door, walk out, and quietly freeze up to death in 20 minutes and in 20 metres from the school in some snow-pile. I am thinking about the swings here, what if he didn't manage the swing.

Click to rate     Rating   39

In those pictures where the boy is wearing a blue sweater, his eyes appeared to have blood in the whites. Now this is worrying, it looks like he was hit really hard or must be in some kind of accident. This really is worrying, poor little chap.

Click to rate     Rating   56

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