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Russia Considers U.S. Adoption Freeze

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has denounced the actions of the U.S. mother as a "monstrous deed."

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia says it is planning to suspend adoptions of its children by U.S. citizens after an American woman sent her adopted son back to Moscow on a plane with a note disowning him.

Artyom Savelyev, 7, arrived alone at a Moscow airport on April 6 with a typed letter asking the Russian government to annul the adoption on the grounds that the child was mentally unstable, officials said.

President Dmitry Medvedev denounced the episode as a "monstrous deed", and called for an agreement with U.S. authorities laying down American parents' duties in such cases and creating a system to monitor the children's treatment.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went one step further, saying U.S. adoptions of Russian children would be halted until such a deal was reached.

"The way he was treated was beyond immoral," Lavrov said in an interview with state-run news channel Rossiya-24. "We have made a decision that the Foreign Ministry will insist on freezing all adoptions by U.S. families until Russia and the U.S. sign an interstate treaty setting out adoption terms."

Russia is the third largest source of foreign adoptions to the United States with 1,586 in 2009, according to the U.S. State Department.

Artyom was adopted from an orphanage in Russia's Far East in 2009. After six months, his adoptive mother decided he was not fitting in and bought him a one-way ticket to Moscow.

"The child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues. I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage," said the note, which was shown on Russian television. "For the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child."

Television pictures showed the fair-haired Artyom nervously waving at a line of cameras. He underwent tests at a Moscow hospital as authorities considered who would take care of him, officials said.

Medvedev said Artyom "fell into a very bad family".

"It is a monstrous deed on the part of his adoptive parents...[It] is not only immoral but also against the law," Medvedev told ABC News.

"We should understand what is going on with our children, or we will totally refrain from the practice of adopting Russian children by American adoptive parents."

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. government was "obviously very troubled" by the case, but hoped that it would not preclude future adoptions.

"If Russia chooses to suspend these adoptions, these are Russian citizens, that is Russia's right. We would like to see these adoptions continue but we understand the concern that Russia has, we share that concern," he told a news briefing.

U.S. officials would work with both Russian officials and international adoption agencies to strengthen protections for such children, he added.

Russia's top investigative body said it was probing Artyom's adoption to see if any law had been broken. The Kremlin's ombudsman for children's rights, Pavel Astakhov, said Artyom had been mistreated by his adopted mother.

Artyom was met at a Moscow airport by a tour guide who had been paid $200 by his adoptive mother to "deliver him to the Education Ministry like a parcel", Astakhov said. The ministry runs the country's orphanages and is responsible for adoptions.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle said U.S. authorities would also check if a crime had been committed.