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Dima Yakovlev law doesn't resolve US adoptions problem - ombudsman

February 20, 2013, 16:52 UTC+3

"The situation is very unfavorable," Astakhov told a news conference at Itar-Tass

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MOSCOW, February 20 (Itar-Tass) - Children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said the "Dima Yakovlev law" does not resolve the U.S. problem of the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

"The situation is very unfavorable," Astakhov told a news conference at Itar-Tass on Wednesday, "in the future, such cases /deaths of Russian children in U.S. families - eds Itar-Tass/ might happen again, because foreign adoptions ran at such a rate that we had no time to check the people coming here, and did not collect enough documents on them, their physical and mental condition. Thus we see it's a delayed action mine.

"Russia has no strict registration in the child adoption system. Back in April 2010, when I first delved into the problem after the return of Artyom Savelyev, it turned out that there was no strict registration. Every year, Russia loses track of 200 to 300 children who leave the country. Some could be accounted for as they are on record at the Ministry of Education and Science because they have passports. But the number of children coming to America seems to be larger by 200 to 300 for some reason. Nobody was able to find out why it happened. We don't know these children; we haven't seen them. A check in the past five years showed that we haven't seen and we don't know 1,000 children who somehow found themselves in the USA.

"So the problem is unresolved despite the U.S. adoption ban. Such accidents will happen again. The problem remains," Astakhov said.

According to the ombudsman, Russia will introduce a complete adoption ban for foreigners in the near future.

When asked by a U.S. reporter why the adoption bans only applies to U.S. citizens, Astakhov underlined that Russia has no such problems with any other country. "No other country has so many cases of violence and death of our children. Although Italy, France and Spain are already close to the USA by the number of adopted children. But we don't have such problems with any of these countries There is no lack of control, no backlog on control, no lack of information, no such figures for violence and cruelty," Astakhov said.

On January 1, 2013, the ban on the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens came into effect in Russia. The measure is part of Russia’s response to the USA's "Magnitsky Act," which is unofficially called "the Dima Yakovlev law," in memory of the Russian boy who died in a tragic death in a U.S. foster family.

Astakhov said the Russian Foreign Ministry must set tough terms before the U.S. Department of State regarding the reporting on emergencies involving Russian children in U.S. foster families

"Together with the Russian Foreign Ministry, we must work out a clear mechanism to control adopted children. It must be done by the Foreign Ministry, because all the children, taken away during these two decades remain Russian citizens until they come of age. So the convention on consular relations continues to be effective, nobody has canceled it, but it is not abided by, because in accordance with the consular procedure, the authorities should have informed us within 24 hours about the accident involving a Russian citizen. And in this case a month had passed," Astakhov said referring to Maxim Kuzmin's death.

According to the ombudsman, Maxim Kuzmin's mother asked him to help her regain parental rights and return her second child, Maxim's brother from the United States.

"Yulia Kuzmina, mother of Kirill and Maxim, asked me today to help her regain her parental rights and bring Kirill back from the USA," Astakhov told a news conference at Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

Kirill is presently being taken care of by his foster parents' relatives. "We have all reasons to demand that the child be returned to his homeland. If we cannot return him to his mother, there are his grandparents. If the foster parents commit a crime, we have the right to demand returning the child to his homeland," the ombudsman underlined.

He promised to look into the circumstances of stripping Maxim Kuzmin's grandparents of guardianship rights, as the grandparents said they had never given up on their grandchildren.

"Today, the orphanage from which the U.S. family adopted Maxim, is shut down, and a commission set up by the Pskov region governor is working. Our task is to find out the circumstances under which the boy's mother and grandparents were stripped of guardianship rights, as they question their refusal to abandon the children.

"We have to analyze the adoption system in each region; if there is no confidence in guardianship bodies, we have to set up a special commission on adoption," the ombudsman said.

Maxim Kuzmin, 3, and his two-year-old brother Kirill from an orphanage in Pechora, Pskov Region, were adopted by Texas residents Alan and Lora Shatto late last year. Maxim died on January 21 as a result of cruel treatment by his foster mother. The U.S. authorities are looking into his death. The forensic examination results are not available yet.

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