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Russian activists set to march against foreign adoptions

02 march 2013, 14:59
Kremlin children's rights envoy Pavel Astakhov. ©REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin
Kremlin children's rights envoy Pavel Astakhov. ©REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin
Activists from pro-Kremlin children's advocacy groups were set on Saturday to march through Moscow to call on authorities to ban all foreign adoptions and demand the return of an adopted boy whose brother died in Texas, AFP reports.

The march through the snow-covered Russian capital comes after a United States coroner ruled that the death of a young boy adopted from Russia Max Shatto (born Maxim Kuzmin), was an accident and cleared his adoptive parents of wrongdoing.

The three-year-old died from a lacerated artery in his bowel due to blunt force trauma in his abdomen, according to results of an autopsy. The coroner's report also noted that the boy had a mental disorder that caused him to hurt himself.

Hours before the march the Kremlin children's rights envoy Pavel Astakhov reacted to the US report with scepticism.

"The triumph of justice?" he wrote on Twitter, adding that the boy had become a "victim of Big politics."

A top organiser of the Saturday event also said she did not trust the results of the US autopsy, calling it "American propaganda."

"I am in favour of a more serious investigation," Irina Bergset, coordinator of the movement Russian Mothers, told AFP.

"It's just shows they treat Russian children like cats and dogs," she said.

The boy, who was born to an alcoholic mother in Russia and placed in an orphanage, was found unconsious in the backyard of his new Texas home in January by his adoptive mother and died in hospital.

While the Shattos have been cleared of homicide, they could still face negligence charges for leaving the boy alone in the yard.

The Shattos have also adopted Max's two-year-old brother Kirill, and march participants will call on US authorities to return the boy to Russia as well as to demand a blanket ban on all foreign adoptions.

"Until we ban them, our people will be putting their hopes in foreign adopters and good Samaritans," Oxana Garnayeva, head of charity group Russian Birch, told AFP.

Late last year, Russia introduced a ban on all American adoptions in retaliation for a US bill targeting Russian officials with sanctions over the prison death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

In January, at least 20,000 Russians marched through Moscow to protest the Kremlin ban they dubbed the "law of scoundrels."

The organisers of Saturday's event, which is due to begin at 0900 GMT, are hoping for a turnout of at least several thousand but critics said some like students were being forced to join the march.

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