Russians Blame Texas Parents for Adopted Boy's Death

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Woolf said she could not comment on the specific allegations of bruising or damage to Max's internal organs, but said she didn't know where Astakhov was "getting this from." She said their office had not released that information to Russian authorities.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said the State Department and local authorities have been working with Russian consular officials in Houston, facilitating consular access to Max's brother as well.

"At this early stage it would be irresponsible to draw conclusions about the death or assign guilt before autopsy results are analyzed and an investigation is carried out," the embassy statement said.

Russia cut off adoptions to the United States as of Jan. 1, citing the cases of 19 Russian children who died after being adopted by Americans. Max Shatto would be the 20th. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, American families have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children, according to the State Department.

The ban was seen by U.S. officials as part of Russia's retaliation for a set of human rights sanctions imposed by the United States in December that threatened to place financial and travel sanctions on Russian officials believed to have committed human rights abuses.

Recently, however, Russian officials have denied the adoption ban was a response to the American sanctions.

After a few tense weeks, Russia allowed several dozen adoptions that had already received court approval to proceed. However, they have so far held up hundreds more cases where the children had met their prospective parents, but had not yet gotten the go ahead from a judge. American diplomats have tried in vain to convince Russia to reverse that decision.

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