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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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Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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