Western couples hit by Russian adoptions revolt
From Jeremy Page in Moscow

RUSSIA'S laws against foreign adoptions have come under fire after two Western couples had their newly adopted Russian children taken from them on the basis of eyewitness reports that they were abusing them.
The authorities took a three-year-old boy from his adoptive American parents last Wednesday after a woman called police to report that the mother grabbed the child's throat in a café in Hotel Ukraine, Moscow.

Then, a six-year-old boy was taken from an Italian couple on Friday after a cabin attendant reported that the mother hit the child on a flight to Moscow.

Prosecutors are considering child-abuse charges against the parents, who deny wrongdoing. The cases have raised fears that Western couples are becoming the targets of a nationalist backlash against the rise in foreign adoptions.

The US Embassy issued an unusually strong statement criticising Russian authorities and media for their handling of the American couple's case.

"The unusual attention to and handling of this case by Russian authorities and the Russian press suggests that a double standard exists for Americans and other foreigners with respect to child welfare," it said.

"Whereas little appears to be done to stem effectively the mistreatment of children in the Russian Federation resulting in the existence of over 700,000 orphans in the country, Russian authorities have specifically victimised this American family, forcing them to depart the country without their child over disagreements on child-rearing practices." Natalia Smirnova, the woman who called the police, opposed foreign adoptions and regarded Americans as unfit to raise children, the embassy said. Russians were horrified by the case of Irma Pavlis, an American adoptive mother who was jailed for 12 years last month for the involuntary manslaughter of her sixyear-old adopted Russian son.