- Special Pages
MOSCOW: The US ambassador to Moscow and a top Russian lawmaker traded verbal blows yesterday over the death of a Russian child adopted in the United States, in a row that threatens to overshadow upcoming talks with the new US secretary of state.
The emotionally charged exchange came after US ambassador Michael McFaul refused to show up in the Russian parliament’s lower house to answer questions about recent deaths of Russian children adopted by American parents.
“By refusing to come to the State Duma to discuss the deaths of our children the US ambassador has shown that they are not ready for a serious dialogue on this problem,” Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Duma committee on international affairs, wrote on Twitter.
McFaul countered that he was “always happy” to meet Russian officials to discuss adoptions but would not do so in parliament. “As a norm, US ambassadors to not participate in hearings of foreign parliaments,” he tweeted. “Do Russian ambassadors?”
Irina Yarovaya, the chairperson of the Duma’s security committee, issued an even more poisonous diatribe, accusing McFaul of preaching democracy but ignoring the deaths of Russian children.
“Apparently, he believes it is undemocratic to acknowledge inaction of the US authorities over the violence and abuse of small children,” she said in acid remarks posted on the website of the parliament’s lower house. Late last year, Russia banned all adoptions by American parents, a measure that came in reprisal for US legislation that targets Russian officials deemed to have committed rights abuses.
Tensions flared again earlier this week over the January death in the United States of a 3-year-old Russian boy, Maxim Kuzmin, with Russian investigators saying the boy was murdered by his adoptive American mother. The little boy’s death will be among key topics of a meeting next week between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and new US Secretary of State John Kerry, the foreign ministry’s human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov said.