Fury in Russia over adopted boy murder

Russian authorities have opened an investigation into the death of five-year-old boy adopted by an Italian family in a move that could jeopardize Italy's position as the leading destination for adopted Russian children.

Fury in Russia over adopted boy murder
Adoption photo: Shutterstock

Maxim Maravalle, whose birth name was Kichigin, died in Pescara last Thursday after allegedly being murdered by his adoptive father, Massimo Maravelle.

The alleged killing has sparked outrage in Russian media and among politicians. It comes just a year after Italy was promoted as a favoured destination for Russian orphans because the country doesn’t allow gay marriage, The Moscow Times reported.

Russian children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov has called for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to personally oversee the investigation. Astakhov, a former celebrity lawyer, led the charge in 2013 for Russia to ban adoptions of its children by US families.

That ban was ostensibly related to the death of Dima Yakovlev, who died in 2008 after being left in a car by his adoptive American father. However, it was widely interpreted as revenge for US sanctions against officials involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Since the US ban, Italy has become the main destination for adopted Russian children.

Russian officials have only cited child welfare considerations in their statements about the Maravelle case. However, it comes as the EU, of which Italy holds the rotating presidency, prepares to vote on Tuesday on tougher sanctions against Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 last week.

The Investigative Committee for the Amur region, where Maxim was born, said on its website that it is probing members of the local government for "negligence in processing the [adoption] documents" and is also looking into the child's living conditions. In what the Moscow Times said was "a sign of the troubling direction the affair could take", the committee is also looking at whether it was legal to send the boy abroad rather than to relatives in Russia.

The boy was reportedly strangled by Maravelle, who suffered from mental health problems that were not disclosed at the time he and his wife, Patrizia Silvestri, underwent the adoption process in 2012, the local Italian news website GE Local Pescara, reported.

Maravelle has been in custody since Friday.

A few days before the boy’s death Maravelle, who had been receiving treatment since 2006, had been due to meet his psychiatrist, Alessandro Rossi, in a bid to have his medication reduced because he “felt much better”, GE Local Pescara, reported.

Rossi told police that he was left out of the adoption process and was not asked to provide a health certificate on Maravelle’s condition.

A total of 560 Russian children were adopted by families in Italy in 2013, according to a report by Russia's Supreme Court.

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Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.