Putin asks for calm over Texas death

MOSCOW — Moscow should ‘‘temper emotions’’ about the death of a Russian boy adopted by an American family, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Friday after the US ambassador urged Russian authorities and the media to stop their ‘‘sensational exploitations’’ of the case.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the harsh statements by Russian officials and lawmakers were driven by the ‘‘zero tolerance’’ of Russians to the deaths of children adopted by Americans. Still, he acknowledged it is too early to know the cause of the Jan. 21 death of 3-year-old Max Shatto, born Maxim Kuzmin, in West Texas.

‘‘I think it’s necessary to temper emotions a bit,’’ Peskov said on independent Rain TV. ‘‘One thing is obvious and undisputable: bruises were found on the child’s body. We hope that forensic experts will determine their origin.’’


The medical examiner’s office in West Texas has not officially pronounced the cause of death and presented only early results, but its report of bruises on Max’s body — although their origin has not been established — has prompted some Russians to jump to conclusions.

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Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov branded the death as a ‘‘killing’’ by his adoptive American mother, Laura Shatto.

The State Duma’s petition to the US Congress on Friday said the death is ‘‘connected to the fact of violence’’ by the Shattos.

The Russian theory that the boy was killed has topped the news on state-controlled media, which have been using the case to justify Russia’s Dec. 28 ban all adoptions by Americans.

US Ambassador Michael McFaul said he was ‘‘troubled by how my people and my country are being portrayed by some in the Russian press.’’


Texas authorities said that Max’s adoptive mother told them that Max and his half-brother were playing outside. She said she came out and found the boy unconscious.

Shirley Standefer, of the Ector County Medical Examiner’s Office, said there were signs of bruising on Max’s lower abdominal area, but added that a full autopsy would be needed.