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Astakhov: 'Pedophiles' Want My Resignation Most

Published: March 1, 2013 (Issue # 1748)



  • Children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MOSCOW Theofficial atthe center ofRussia's controversial ban onU.S. adoptions struck back atcritics Thursday, saying "pedophiles" were his most strident detractors andthat journalists who accuse him ofdownplaying child abuse inRussia forpolitical reasons are "either blind or dumb."

Children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov also revealed "new evidence" that he said implicated U.S. parents Laura andAlan Shatto inthe death oftheir adoptive Russian toddler last month.

Astakhov quoted aTexas police official as saying thedeath of3-year-old Max Shatto "doesn't look natural" andasserted that Alan Shatto had confessed togiving Max theantipsychotic drug Risperdal because theboy was hyperactive and"refused toobey" his American parents.

InAstakhov's retelling, Shatto said Max's behavioral issues were theresult ofhis time spent inan orphanage inthe Pskov region, as well as "abuse" bythe Russian representative ofthe Gladney Center forAdoption, theTexas-based agency that arranged his adoption.

It was not immediately clear when or towhom thepolice official andShatto made these comments, which appeared onthe children ombudsman's website, andAstakhov did not answer atelephone request forcomment Thursday evening.

Theofficial, Sergeant Gary Duesler, spokesman forthe Ector County Sheriff's Office, has refused topublicly speculate onthe cause ofMax's death andrepeatedly told reporters that theinvestigation is ongoing, no arrests have been made, andthe autopsy report is still pending.

Shatto lawyer Michael J. Brown confirmed that Max had been taking doctor-prescribed medication forhyperactivity but that theShattos don't believe they had anything todo with his death onJan. 21, TheAssociated Press reported Thursday.

He also denied that thecouple killed their son. TheShattos "didn't kill anybody," Brown said.

Awoman who picked up thephone atthe number listed forthe Gladney Center forAdoption onthe government's website hung up immediately after areporter asked whether he had indeed reached theright adoptions agency.

Nobody returned avoice message later left onan answering machine atthe same number.

Astakhov appeared tosave his heaviest ammunition forcritics, who have accused him ofpoliticizing Shatto's death toshame theUnited States andjustify theJan. 1 ban onU.S. adoptions

"Pedophiles want my resignation most ofall because nobody has done more tofight pedophiles than we have," Astakhov declared, adding that he had thesupport ofPresident Vladimir Putin andwould not resign, media reported.

Anonline petition promoted byveteran opposition leader Boris Nemtsov asking Putin tofire Astakhov had gathered almost 10,000 signatures as ofThursday evening.

American parents have adopted about 60,000 Russian children inthe past two decades. 23 have died, according tothe provocatively-named government website Adoption-killers.ru, which Astakhov's office launchedWednesday.

Bycomparison, up to300 orphans entrusted toRussian families die every year, according toState Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina, head ofthe Duma's Committee onFamily, Women andChildren, Gazeta.ru reported last week.

Such figures have fueled accusations that Astakhov, aclose Putin ally, is emphasizing U.S. deaths forpolitical reasons, acharge he denied. "Those who write that Astakhov doesn't talk about thedeaths ofchildren inRussia my friends, you're either blind or dumb," he said, Interfax reported.

Astakhov also said he was skeptical about bloggers' allegations that organizers ofa march insupport ofthe adoptions ban are recruiting participants with promises ofcash. Theostensibly grassroots demonstration is scheduled forSaturday indowntown Moscow.





 


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