UK & World News
Russian Adoptee's Texas Death 'Accidental'
The death of a three-year-old boy adopted from Russia at his Texas home was an accident, a coroner has ruled.
The findings contradict claims by Russian officials that Max Shatto (born Maxim Kuzmin) was tortured and killed by his adoptive mother.
The case ignited a diplomatic firestorm just weeks after Russia passed a law banning US adoptions.
But four doctors who reviewed Max's autopsy results cleared his adoptive parents of wrongdoing, Texas officials said in a statement.
The autopsy found Max died from a lacerated artery in his bowel due to blunt force trauma in his abdomen.
His mother, Laura Shatto, reportedly found him unconscious in their home's backyard and rushed him to hospital. Max died on January 21, just weeks after his third birthday.
"Based on all medical reasonable probability, the manner of death is accidental," the Ector County Medical Examiner's Office said.
Russian officials accused Laura and Alan Shatto of doping Max with "psychoactive drugs," but the toxicology report released on Friday found no drugs or medicines in his system.
The coroner also said Max had a mental disorder that caused him to hurt himself, and bruises found on his body were self-inflicted.
Last month, the Russian Duma petitioned the US to have the Shattos return Max's younger brother, whom they also had adopted, to be raised Russia.
The boys' biological mother, recovering alcoholic Yulia Kuzmina, appeared on a string of popular talk shows, vowing to "fight" for Kristopher (born Kirill), claiming she was now ready to raise him.
US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul responded to the diplomatic row by calling on Russian officials to stop "sensational exploitation" of the boy's tragic death.
A State Department spokesman responded to the coroner's report by saying the US government was "saddened by this terrible tragedy".
Deputy acting spokesman Patrick Ventrell added that local officials deny "providing any documents to the Russian government with regard to this investigation".
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services also has cleared the US agency that facilitated the adoption of allegations it did not properly vet the Shattos.
The state's child protective services agency has said it investigated the family after the boy's death but did not find it necessary to remove Kristopher from the home.
Russia's ban on US adoptions will not take effect for another year, and may not impact all adoptions that are already in progress.
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