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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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Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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