This is "yet another case of inhuman torture of a Russian child adopted by US parents," said Russian Foreign Ministry official Konstantin Dolgov in a statement Monday.
But as the controversy spills over into its third day, significant questions remain about both the circumstances of the boy’s death and how it will affect prospects for lifting a ban on Russian adoptions – and even the delicate balance of US-Russia relations.
“Let me underscore that it is a terrible tragedy that this child has died,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland during a press conference Tuesday, adding that the US government had already been in touch with Russian authorities about the case for several days.
“But none of us, not here, not anywhere in the world, should jump to a conclusion about the circumstances until the police have had a chance to investigate,” she added.
By then, however, many Russians had already made up their minds.
"An adoptive mother has killed a three-year-old Russian child in the state of Texas. The murder occurred at the end of January," wrote Russia’s children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov on a blog Monday morning, setting off the controversy.
The boy, he continued, died in his home after his adoptive mother called an ambulance for him. “According to the autopsy report, the boy had many injuries,” he continued.