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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.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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