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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife) Pro-Kremlin activists have rallied in central Moscow to demand that the government extends a ban on American families adopting Russian children to all foreign nationals, adding to a sense of urgency among Russian Christians to prepare for more adoptions in this large nation.
Saturday's protest of up to 20,000 people came a day after authorities in the U.S. State of Texas said the death in January of 3-year-old Max Shatto, was "an accident."
Protesters also demanded his brother to be returned to Russia.
The Russian Mothers movement said it was time for a “more thorough investigation” into the death of the boy, who was born Maksim Kuzmin in Russia.
Russian authorities accuse the child's adoptive mother of drugging and "murdering" him, but Texas officials wonder how Moscow can claim to know the exact details of the case from such a distance.
Russian officials have cited the boy's death to dismiss criticism of Moscow's politically charged ban on U.S. adoptions.
The recently approved law came after new U.S. legislation which punishes Russian officials accused of human rights violations, including those linked to the murder of an anti-corruption lawyer in 2009.
Sanctions include visa bans and asset freezes.
Russia's anti-adoption law has led to emotional reactions from at least one American couple. Speaking on U.S.television, Robert Summers pleaded to President Vladimir Purtin to allow their own and other adoptions to go ahead.
"I cannot put into words, how my wife and I feel right now," he said, with tears in his eyes, his voice trembling.
"And we ask President Putin: 'Please consider alternate means, but don't let these children suffer. Please, that's all we ask," he cried.
The couple prayed and went to Russia where they were able to pick up their child, Preston, from a Russian orphanage because a judge gave permission before the law came into force, explained Kim Summers in a later interview with CBS News television.
"Robert and I looked at each other and we said: 'It's over, it's over'," she recalled.
"And I can't even tell you the relieve and how related we are. I completely understand when a mother says that she takes one look at her newborn child and instantly is in love with that child," Kim Summers explained.
But the fate of other children remains uncertain.
While President Putin promotes larger families, rights groups say many children remain in often horrific circumstances in orphanages across Russia.
That reality prompted Americans to adopt more than 60.000 Russian children over the last two decades.
Yet mission group Russian Ministries said the developments have also led to a sense of urgency among Christians to become even more involved in adoptions.
"All hope is not lost. God is working through this injustice, and many Russian Christians are becoming more aware of the orphan crisis in their country and acting to adopt or foster," the group said.
"Often Russian Christians have small homes, but they have huge hearts for adoption and are reaching out to adopt and foster orphans in unprecedented numbers."
Yet Russia's opposition earlier held protests against the adoption ban amid concerns not enough Russian families will be able to cope with the high number of needy children.
On Saturday Russian opposition activists also marched in defense of social and political rights.
That Moscow rally was organized by protest leader Sergei Udaltsov who is under house arrest on controversial charges of plotting "mass disorder" and conspiring to overthrow President Putin.
(BosNewsLife's NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).
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