(MOSCOW) — The Russian government is seizing on the case of an adopted Russian boy in Virginia whose foster parents were arrested last week for allegedly abusing him — the latest in a string of abuses that have gotten a lot of attention in Russia.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Thursday that the incident could stall efforts to implement a new adoption agreement with the United States, which was only recently ratified by Russia’s State Duma; the ministry said the incident called into question the American readiness to implement the deal.
“We demand to finally bring order to this area. Will depend on the completion of procedures necessary for entry into force of this Treaty, and the possibility of our further cooperation in the field of adoption,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
This latest case involves 8-year-old Daniel Krichun who was living in Bristow, Va., and was adopted in 2006 by Matthew and Amy Sweeney, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. On July 19, the boy knocked on the door of a home near his house and said he was lost. The couple who answered gave him something to eat and noticed he had a lot of bruises on his body. The next day authorities arrested the Sweeneys after police inspected the boy and determined that he had been, according to Russian news reports, “regularly exposed to domestic violence.”
The Sweeneys have reportedly been charged with child abuse and released on $40,000 bail.
The Kremlin has paid close attention to the welfare of adopted Russian children in the United States ever since a Tennessee woman put her young adopted son on a plane to Russia with little more than a letter saying she didn’t want him anymore.
But there are also signs recently that the subject of adoptions to the United States has become politicized, an effort to strike an anti-American and nationalist tone at a time when it plays well for domestic politics and distracts from Russia’s protest movement.
Russian officials, with a Russian television news crew, recently descended on a ranch for adopted kids in Montana, claiming it was a, “trash can for unwanted children.” The owner wouldn’t let them on the property, fearing they would mischaracterize their mission.
The ranch is actually a $3,500-a-month facility where adoptive parents send children with developmental and behavioral problems to be in a structured environment that provides them green spaces and activities like horseback riding.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ben Westcott, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
Stephanie Halasz, Jason Hanna and Livia Borghese, CNN