The English language online edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda fills in some details of Dima’s history prior to his transport to the US–and in a few short words tells us something about the care of women and children in post Soviet Russia (something I could write more on, but won’t at this time). It also contradicts somewhat an earlier report in the Russian language Gazetta that authorities had been unable to place Dima domestically due to a “series of serious diseases.” Moreover (not mentioned in the article), the placing agency, European Adoption Consultants is a major Adoption Russian Style money generator, and if the orphanage director had the chance to pick up a hefty “donation” from the Harrisons, its Russian customers would be shown the door.
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda:
Dima had made a long journey from Russia’s Pechor Pskovsk region to the U.S. His new family lived in Herndon, Virginia outside Washington DC. First, it seemed that fate had dealt the boy a second chance. His biological mother had put him up for adoption immediately after his birth — even though she too was raised in an orphanage. Dima was moved straight from the labor ward to the Pskovsk Regional Orphanage for children with a damaged central nervous system.
“We received Dima in 2006 straight from the labor ward,” said Natalya Vishnevskaya, the head doctor at the orphanage. “His 18-year-old mother signed a refusal of the child and disappeared. It’s unclear where she is now. She is a mentally disabled, lonely young girl who was also raised in an orphanage.”
RIA Novistii reports comments from the Russian Foreign Ministry:
We hope that American law enforcement authorities and the court will exhaustively look into all the causes and circumstances surrounding this tragedy and take a just decision. We also hope that the relevant U.S. social services will draw the necessary conclusions from this.
Baby Love Child has excellent commentary of the Yakolev/Harrison case including thoughts on these two articles. Since I don’t want to be repetitious, I recommend you check out her last two blogs.
That said, I want to bring up a subject that she did, too: the allegation from Russian authorities that they learned of Dima’s death several days after it happened, and then only from reading about it in then in the newspaper. This, of course, ties in to reports, which imo, are mistaken, that the accreditation of European Adoption Consultants has been lifted due to failure to report Dima’s death immediately to the Ministry of Education and Science as required by Russian law. There simply would not have been enough time to investigate and remove EAC, who has been in Russia for years and undoubtedly has friend$ in high place$, between the time officials learned of the death and when news reports of its so-called expulsion were published. This does not mean that EAC isi not on the way out (which we’d all like to see), but that it hasn’t happened yet.
According to Kosmoslovkia Prvada:
Interestingly, the boy died Tuesday — one week ago. But news of the tragedy reached Russia only several days later. Employees of the Russian Embassy in the U.S. only learned what had happened from the papers.
For what it’s worth, here’s the news reporting timeline I have. This timeline is based on online news accounts only, and I have no idea when the Ministry or Embassy actually heard the news. I can very well imagine, though, that Embassy and Consular officials got the news from the July 10 WaPo, like most of us did, though Fox 5 and the Fairfax News had done a report on the 9th.
Death: July 8,2008
Fox 5 – July 9, 2008
Fairfax News – July 9, 2008
Washington Post– July 10, 2008
Washington Post – July 11, 2008
Novistii – July 11, 2008
Not until the July 11 WaPo were any Russian comments on the case published, so it appears nobody knew about Dima’s death until the 10th:
Yevgeniy V. Khorishko, press officer for the Russian Embassy, said consulate officials are “trying to figure out the details of this accident.”
We are in contact with U.S. officials in this case,” Khorishko said. Russian officials are also working to determine whether the boy still had Russian citizenship, he said.
That same day, the state-run RIA Novistii reported the death–the first Russian news report I’ve found online, but with no Ministry comments. The Russian language RCP News, also on July 11, reported the death and said that EAC and two other agencies had been kicked out, but did not source the claim. Same for the July 12 Russian language Gazetta except it sourced the Ministry via ITAR-TASS. I have been unable to find a story on the case on the English language ITAR-TASS site, though it may on the Russian language site which I can’t search. The first solidly sourced comments that I’ve found came in Monday’s English language Moscow Times—nearly a week after Dima died. (The sourcing is one of the reasons I believe EAC is only under investigation right now, not expelled).
From the Moscow Times:
Two U.S. adoption agencies have been barred from operating in Russia, but authorities denied Monday that the decision was linked to the recent death of an adopted baby in the United States.
The Education and Science Ministry said it had withdrawn the accreditation of the two agencies — the Cradle of Hope Adoption Center and Family and Children’s Agency — after inspections found that they had violated the law.
The ministry supplied a list of the purported violations, which primarily focused on failures to keep the ministry informed about the well-being of adopted children.
“For the first three years, they should inform the Russian education ministry about the situation regularly,” ministry spokesman Andrei Nedrov said.
He said the ministry was considering toughening the conditions for agencies seeking to reapply for licenses after being barred.
On July 15, a full week after Dima’s death, the Russian Foreign Ministry released an official statement (click on “News in English” to get to news site) which reads in part:
And even if in this case, as distinct from several previous, no deliberately cruel treatment of an adopted child is claimed to have been involved, but criminal neglect leading to a tragic outcome, the fact remains – a small citizen of Russia has died. We will duly track the entire course of the investigation and seek to ensure that it is fully objective.
We expect that American law enforcement bodies and the court will thoroughly look into all the causes and circumstances of the tragedy and adopt a just decision. We also hope that the appropriate US social services will draw the necessary conclusions from it.
We have repeatedly called on the American side to conclude a special bilateral agreement on adoptions. Such an international legal document will ensure more effective control over the fate of Russian children taken by adoptive parents to the US. We will persistently keep this issue on the agenda of Russian-American dialogue.
Clearly this is not going to go away. And the fact that it took so long for Russian officials to be informed of Dima’s death does not sit well with the already tense situation regarding Russian-US adoption. European Adoption Consultants, of course, has made no statement. Would we expect less? NCFA and JCICS must be buzzing.
ADDENDA: July 16, 8:00 AM: Here’s an interesting tidbit from today’s Examiner.com:
A spokesman for EAC declined to comment Tuesday, saying that the company is still trying to figure out what action the Russians have taken.
Reasonably, it would be assumed that if EAC doesn”t know what the Russian government has done, then it has not been expelled. Or are they stonewalling their customers? Or are the Russians just playing tit for tat?