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Death of Adopted Russian Boy in Italy Sparks Outrage

Published: July 21, 2014 (Issue # 1820)



  • Children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The alleged killing of a five-year-old Russian boy by his adoptive Italian father has been met in Russia with mourning and calls for adoption reform, feeding an ongoing movement to keep orphans out of foreign hands.

Maxim Maravalle, last name Kichigin by birth, died on the night of July 17 in Pescara, Italy, according to a statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website. Several Russian media sources have reported that he was strangled.

"The crime was committed by the boy's adopted father — Massimo Maravalle, who was arrested by the police. Pescara's Prosecutor General has opened a criminal case against [him]," the statement said, citing information from the Italian government.

Maravalle is thought to have suffered from a psychological illness, a fact that, according to the Italian authorities, was never disclosed during the adoption process, which was concluded in 2012.

The Investigative Committee for the Amur region, where Maxim was born and adopted, has already opened a criminal case and is investigating members of the local government for "negligence in processing the [adoption] documents," as well as looking into the boy's living conditions in Italy, according to a statement published Sunday on the committee's website.

In a sign of the troubling direction the affair could take, the committee is also investigating the legality of the boy being sent abroad rather than into the care of Russian citizens or relatives.

Yelena Mizulina, a State Duma deputy and conservative moral crusader who was a driving force behind Russia's "gay propaganda" law, has meanwhile called for a probe into Italy's procedures for selecting adoptive parents.

"It is completely obvious that we need a thorough analysis of the entire procedure which exists in Italy for selecting candidates for adoption," Mizulina said, RIA Novosti reported.

The incident is all the more troubling given the fact that Italy is the leading destination for Russian children adopted by foreigners, she added.

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