Streetwise Professor

March 4, 2013

The Most Loathsome Member of the Russian “Elite”

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:34 am

The competition is fierce, but Pavel Astakhov is opening up a big lead in the race for the title of Most Loathsome Member of the Russian Elite.  His outrageous and utterly cynical exploitation of the tragic death of Russian born Maxim Shatto is beyond disgusting.

Almost as soon as the 3 year old’s death was announced, Astakhov proclaimed on Twitter that the boy had been murdered by his adoptive American parents; was covered with bruises; and had been given large doses of “psychotropic drugs.”  The basis for these claims was . . . apparently voices in Astakhov’s head.  Actually, he didn’t need a basis: he was making stuff up.  He was just cynically exploiting a tragic death in order to advance a political cause.

When there was some pushback, Astakhov bravely deleted the accusatory tweets in classic Soviet, 1984-esque fashion.

Now officials have announced that four pathologists-including one from another Texas jurisdiction brought in to provide an independent evaluation-have concluded that Maxim’s death was accidental.  The boy suffered from a behavioral disorder that caused him to inflict self-injuries.  There were no drugs in the boy’s system.

It is highly likely that rather than being the poster child for the monstrous nature of American adoptive parent that Astakhov made him out to be, that Maxim was in fact just another example of a Russian child born to an alcoholic mother and condemned to a dysfunctional child “welfare” system who was given a chance by an American couple willing to take on a kid no Russian would take.

Maxim’s mother was-is-an alcoholic: her alcoholism is why her children were taken from her care.  After making an emotional public plea for the return of Maxim’s brother, adopted by the same Texas couple, she proceeded to get drunk; brawl with her (also drunk) boyfriend; and get thrown off a train for her behavior.  (If you’ve seen any of the accounts of drunken brawls on Russian airliners, you can imagine what you have to do to to get pitched from a train.)

The boy’s pictures reveal tell-tale signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the behavioral problems also suggest severe developmental problems likely caused by his mother’s drinking.  (FAS is also associated with an elevated risk of congenital heart problems.  The Maxim died of a ruptured abdominal artery.  I don’t know whether  FAS can lead to defects in the circulatory system.)  Russian media reports claim that the boy was rejected by six potential Russian adoptive families.

Maxim Shatto was the victim of abuse, all right.  In Russia.  From before he was born.  Texas was his last chance.  Tragically, it came too late.

I predicted from the moment Astakhov first shot off his mouth, in the event that Texas officials did not support his claims of murder he would claim cover-up.  And indeed, he has:

Russia’s federal child rights commissioner, Pavel A. Astakhov, suspected a cover-up.

“His bruises disappeared, medications dissolved, the adoptive parents were acquitted, the authorities renounced any claims,” Mr. Astakhov posted on Twitter. “The 3-year-old boy was the victim of big politics.”

Who, pray tell, has made “the 3-year-old boy . . . the victim of big politics” other than the loathsome Pavel Astakhov?  He is the one who politicized this deeply personal tragedy.

A bit about this slug’s background.  KGB-a graduate of a KGB law school.  He defended an accused American spy, Edmond Pope, and an oligarch whom Putin turned on, Vladimir Gusinsky.  His involvement in these cases is rather interesting.  I am sure his involvement was not due to his desire to protect the rights of those under legal assault by the Russian state.

For a Russian hyper-patriot, he shows a decided affinity for the luxuries of the West.  He went to a US law school (Pitt), and made sure that his 3d child was born in France, where his wife and child live in sumptuous surroundings.  He has complained of the extreme hardships he has had to endure, shuttling between Russia and the Cote D’Azur.

The Astakhov’s lifestyle has to be seen to be believed, and wouldn’t you know, he’s obliged with a glossy magazine spread.  Quite a contrast to the squalor in which the orphans and abandoned children in “Children’s Ombudsman’s” care live, eh?

One last thing.  US Secretary of State John Kerry has told Sergei (“The Tarantula”) Lavrov that he will personally investigate the deaths of Russian adoptees in America.  Quite frankly, this is none of the business of the federal government generally, or the Secretary of State specifically.  These matters are clearly the responsibility of state and local officials in the US’s federal system (as degraded as it is), and those boundaries should be respected.  That Kerry is willing to overstep his own authority to trample on his own countrymen, and implicitly question their competence, in order to pacify cynical Russian politicians who are exploiting human tragedies in order fan anti-American hysteria in Russia is outrageous in its own way.

If the State Department wants to serve as a bridge between the Russian government and local authorities-and especially if it wants to defend the interests and autonomy of said local authorities from Russian attempts to intimidate them-fine.  If the State Department wants to tell Pavel Astakhov to go f*ck himself-even better.  But it has neither the competence nor the Constitutional authority to investigate state and municipal officials or their acts.  I heartily encourage any local official to tell Mr. Kerry or his minions to mind their own business, and to do so in the least diplomatic terms possible.

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  1. Great post. More than a loathsome member of the elite, though, Astakhov is doing a great job as Russia’s national clown. His defense to accusations against him was that “pedophiles” want his resignation (not making this up…it was in the Russian press and summarized by the Moscow Times). Even his pictures display an airheaded flair for being an unintended butt of jokes.
    The sad thing is that his buffoonish antics are comic fodder only for those within and outside Russia in portraying the regime as a bunch of bumbling kleptocrats who will stoop at nothing. He is not entertaining at all for the real victims of this dolt, the Russian children who lose more and more each day that Putin lets his clown remain in office. (Question: how much longer will Putin, who is not known to crack a smile, put up with his unintended clown?)

    Comment by Andrew — March 6, 2013 @ 5:16 am

  2. @Andrew-Thanks. I think that Astrakhov may indeed suffer the vertical chop from on high. I was going to mention that in the post, but it was already long and I wanted to focus on his past and present, rather than conjecture about his future. But now that you bring it up, let me say that I think he is at serious risk of a criminal investigation, or kompromat, or some other career-destroying development. One reason is what you suggest-that Putin has to realize that the guy is a total embarrassment. Putin’s spokesmen basically signaled Astrakhov to take it down a few notches. That lasted about a week. Moreover, autocrats don’t like self-promoting exhibitionists, especially those who spout populist rhetoric. Autocrats view such types as potential competitors, or people who can be used by potential competitors. Hence, I would not be surprised if Astrakhov is dispatched for an extended fact-finding expedition to Siberian orphanages-or worse. Though by worse, I mean better, because he would deserve it 🙂

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 6, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  3. @Andrew-re national clown. I’m sure Zhirinovsky is raging with jealousy because Astrakhov is usurping his role.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 6, 2013 @ 11:40 am

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