Russian boy, 12, abandoned in Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — A 12-year-old boy adopted in his native Russia and abandoned in the Dominican Republic by suspected drug traffickers has been in limbo for years, officials said Tuesday.

The boy, Diego, says he wants to return to Russia but he has forgotten his native language. He has had no formal education since the Russian couple left him with a taxi driver in 2005.

Because of his status as a foreigner, the boy has not been eligible for adoption, said Aly Pena, legal director of the Dominican National Youth Council. “It is a very complicated situation.”

The case was not widely known until Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, mentioned the boy last week in response to a question about overseas adoptions. Russia froze adoptions by U.S. citizens last week after another adopted boy was sent back to Russia by his U.S. family.

Diego, originally from the Volgograd region, was adopted in 2003 by a Russian couple who left him two years later with a driver, authorities said. After returning to Russia, the couple were arrested for cocaine trafficking.

The boy lived with the taxi driver and his wife until authorities received allegations they were mistreating him. In 2008, he was taken away and sent to a temporary shelter for kids who have been victims of domestic violence.

The Russian Embassy in Venezuela has sent officials to meet with the boy, but they have not offered any alternatives to his current situation. Ivan Savin, the consul general at the embassy, said Russian authorities are preparing for his repatriation but Dominican officials may determine the child would be better off staying in this country.

“He has problems with the Russian language,” Savin said.

Diego cannot be adopted locally because there is no information available on his biological family, but Savin said such details can only be revealed through a government petition. So far that has not been done.

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