Accessibility links

Putin Dismisses Children's Ombudsman Astakhov Months After Outcry

  • RFE/RL

Pavel Astakhov

Pavel Astakhov

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of longtime children's rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov, after weeks of uncertainty following Astakhov’s announcement he was stepping down.

The announcement, posted by the Kremlin September 9, was a formality for Astakhov, who had elicited wide derision after making a remark to a teenage survivor of a boating accident that many perceived to be callous.

The decree said that Astakhov, who had served in the post since December 2009, had asked to be dismissed. Astakhov faced intense criticism in June over a remark he made while visiting survivors of a boating accident.

10 Bizarre Quotes By Russia's Ousted Children's Ombudsman

The incident, in which two boats capsized in a storm and 14 people, most of them teenagers, were killed, attracted wide outrage in Russia.

Astakhov insisted his comment -- where he asked a survivor "how was the swim?"-- was taken out of context, but tens of thousands of people signed a petition calling for his resignation.

On July 1, Astakhov said he had submitted his resignation after a "very frank conversation" with Putin.

Astakhov, who was a key supporter of a law barring Americans from adopting children in Russia, made headlines last year after he defended the right of middle-aged men to marry teenage girls, saying that women are "already shrivelled by the age of 27 and look about 50 to us."

His replacement is Anna Kuznetsova, a mother of six who founded a charity in 2010 and had headed an association of groups supporting families since 2015.

Some Russian websites have unearthed past interviews in which Kuznetsova has explained a belief in outlandish theories about genetics and traits inherited by children from their parents.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax