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Dmitry’s Death and Miles Harrison’s Acquittal- part I, The Russian Response

If you are searching for general information about the case and the verdict please see my earlier overview post entitled No, no justice for Dmitry.


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This post is an update to an ongoing series of posts I have made about the death of Dmitry Yakolev/Chase Harrison and the agency that placed him, European Adoption Consultants (EAC). EAC is one of the largest international adoption agencies in the world and the top agency in Russia (and had been in Guatemala.)

Russian law requires officials be kept up to date by the placing agencies of the disposition of the children placed through them with regular updates for the first three years. In the aftermath of Dmitry’s death, the Russian Federation Ministry of Education and Science opened an investigation into EAC for their apparent failure to report his death immediately.

Dmitry is the the second Russian child EAC had placed who died apparently as a result of actions by their adopters. Logan Higgenbotham was killed by her adoptive mother in 1988. You can read my previous posts about Dmitry and EAC by clicking here (read from bottom to top, as entries are in reverse chronological order.)


This round up of some of the Russian responses is not going to be exhaustive by any stretch. That said, I am going to pull a few articles and along with video give a taste of how big a story the Harrison acquittal has been. I’m going to focus on sources in English as I’m primarily attempting to given my American audience more of a feel for how the Russians are reacting, but obviously there are other sources as well, many in other languages. This is a truly international story with interest and implications far beyond the US and Russian media markets. Find the online translation tool of your preference and explore.

I’ll get to some of the American, and adoption industry responses separately, but it’s important to note, while the American media seems to be treating the trial outcome as sparking an international incident (and many of them do not understand that Dmitry’s death is part of a much broader pattern,) the Russians, like many of us here in “Adoptionland” always understood, it was Dmitry’s death itself that was the international incident. Everything thereafter is just the consequences, blowback, and damage control in the aftermath thereof.

Nor am I going to add much commentary in this, I just want readers to see the pieces and go explore them for themselves.

By way of introduction I’ll include two paragraphs from From ABC 7 local news here in the DC area- Russia Protests Acquittal of Virginia father in Adopted Child’s Death

Russia is reacting angrily to the acquittal of an Virginia man charged in the death of his 21-month-old son, adopted from Russia.

The verdict Wednesday sparked a whirlwind of outrage in Russia, with the case topping newscasts on state-run TV, who refer to the boy by his Russian name, Dima. Some lawmakers on Thursday called for tightening adoption laws, or even a total moratorium on adoptions, in particular by Americans.


On to the direct sources themselves-

Back in July, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation issued an initial press release in response to Dmitry’s death- 7/14/08 press release.

While I have not been able to find an official release in the wake of the Harrison acquittal, this is the page such would like appear upon when such does come out. On it, readers can also find other previous releases speaking to the history of foreign adoptions and tightening restrictions thereof.

Video: Car-kill daddy acquitted– Russia Today

The Moscow Times- Tough New Rules for Adoptive U.S. Parents (There are many interesting details in this article, I’m merely going to pull a few quotes.)

The government will toughen regulations for Americans wishing to adopt Russian children after a U.S. court acquitted a Virginia man of felony charges in the death of his newly adopted Russian son earlier this year, officials said Thursday.

Russia tightened controls over adoptions a few years ago after several children died at the hands of U.S. parents, and Wednesday’s acquittal will lead to a further clampdown, said Alina Levitskaya, head of the Education and Science Ministry’s child welfare department.

The verdict “casts doubts” on adopted children’s rights in the United States and “will lead to a tightening of requirements for the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens,” Levitskaya said in a statement on the ministry’s web site.

The ministry has already prepared an official demand to be sent to the U.S. State Department regarding the adoption of Russian children, Levitskaya said. The statement gave no specifics about possible stricter requirements. Ministry spokesman Alexander Kochnev said by telephone Thursday afternoon that officials were in the process of working out new rules.

Yevgeny Khorishko, spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, said U.S. authorities should appeal the “grievous court ruling acquitting the murderer of an infant Russian citizen,” Interfax reported.

In 2005, after the well-publicized deaths of several Russian children at the hands of their adoptive parents in the United States, influential Duma deputies called for a moratorium on all foreign adoptions.

The moratorium never happened, but foreign adoption agencies began facing greater bureaucratic hurdles. Two U.S. adoption agencies were barred from operating in Russia in July, shortly after the death of Harrison’s adoptive child, Chase.

RIA Novosti- Russia slams acquittal of U.S. man over Russian-born son’s death

20:40 | 18/ 12/ 200

Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned on Thursday the acquittal in a U.S. court of Miles Harrison over the death of his adopted Russian-born son, and said it would demand a review of the verdict.

“We are deeply appalled by the verdict of the Fairfax court in the state of Virginia. We consider it to be reprehensible and unprecedented, even if in this case, unlike in several previous cases, it was criminal negligence that led to the tragedy rather than intentionally cruel treatment,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We will demand that U.S. authorities review the extremely unfair ruling. Further cooperation with the United States in adoption will depend on Washington’s readiness to take practical steps to ease our concerns,” the ministry said.

The statement came after criticism earlier on Thursday by a senior Russian education and social protection official, who said adoption requirements for U.S. nationals would be toughened following the acquittal.

RIA Novosti-Russia to toughen adoption rules for U.S. over Harrison acquittal

15:02 | 18/ 12/ 2008

“We are outraged by the court ruling and believe it to be totally unjust and unacceptable,” Alina Levitskaya was quoted by the Education and Science Ministry as saying. “It questions the reliability of the U.S. system of protection of adopted children’s rights, and will lead to tougher requirements for U.S. nationals in Russia.”

Levitskaya said the ministry would demand that authorities in the United States step up monitoring of children adopted from Russia. She said the education ministry and the Russian Embassy in the United States would seek a guilty verdict for Harrison.

“When a tragedy occurs, even if through an involuntary action, a severe punishment should be inevitable,” Levitskaya said.

Finally, here are a few last pieces I’m not going to pull quotes from-

RIA Novosti- U.S. man acquitted in death of son adopted from Russia

21:39 | 17/ 12/ 200

Russia Today- Adoptive father acquitted of 10-year manslaughter sentence and Russia demands reconsideration of adoptive father’s reprieve


Additionally, Marley has also been tracking the Russian reaction see her latest post:


and has written another post detailing many of the complexities of post placement follow ups and informational reporting, it’s a wonderful backgrounder on the lay of the land realities of reporting back to the country of origin:


I add my own voice to hers in calling for either a reopening of, or a new investigation into European Adoption Consultants in the wake of their apparent failure to report Dmitry’s death.

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