MOSCOW — Russia said Thursday it has suspended all adoptions of Russian children by American families until a bilateral agreement can be reached to ensure their well-being.
In making the announcement, the government was following through on a threat it made last week after a 7-year-old boy was sent back to Moscow alone by his adoptive mother in Tennessee.
A U.S. delegation is scheduled to visit Moscow next week to discuss a new accord on adoption procedures and safeguards, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.
"Russia believes that only such an agreement, which will contain effective tools for Russian and U.S. officials to monitor the living conditions of adopted Russian children, will ensure that recent tragedies … will not be repeated," Nesterenko said.
But there was confusion surrounding the announcement. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has not received notification of a formal suspension, officials said. In Washington, the U.S. State Department denied that adoptions had been suspended, the Associated Press reported.
The case of the 7-year-old boy, who was named Artyom Savalyev before his adoption, has prompted anger in Russia.
But the government's ombudsman for children, Pavel Astakhov, said as many as 15 children adopted by Russian parents die every year, and about 1,220 children adopted by Russian parents died from 1993 to 2008.
Russian authorities say more than a dozen Russian children have been killed by their American adoptive parents since the mid 1990s. More than 60,000 Russian children were adopted by U.S. families during the same period.