MOSCOW, March 1 - RAPSI. Texan authorities have refuted childrens rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov's statement that the US police believe that Max Shatto (Maxim Kuzmin), a Russian boy adopted by a US family, died of natural causes.

Speaking at a news conference in RIA Novosti on Thursday, Astakhov cited Ector County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Gary Duesler as saying that three-year-old Max Shatto, a Russian boy originally named Maxim Kuzmin and adopted by a Texan couple last fall, does not appear to have died of natural causes.

He also cited a preliminary autopsy report which stated that the numerous bruises and scratch marks found on Maxim's head, legs and in the lower abdominal area were possibly a result of a strong blow (or blows). The death of Max Alan Shatto is one of those rare cases when it is extremely difficult to determine the real culprit, Astakhov said citing one of the investigating officers.

"We have not concluded whether or not physical abuse caused or contributed to Max Shatto's death, and we have not concluded whether or not neglectful supervision caused or contributed to his death," Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Child Protective Services (CPS), said in a statement to RIA Novosti.

Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson told RIA Novosti that Astakhov's citation was inaccurate, stating his belief that the word culprit was never used. The police do not even know if a crime was committed or not, he continued. Astakhov announced the death of Maxim Kuzmin on February 18. He tweeted that the child had been given powerful "psychotropic substances" and was badly beaten before he died in hospital on January 21.

Alan and Laura Shatto also fostered Maxim's two-year-old brother, Kirill, who is still living with the couple.

Crimmins said Kirill is at home and safe.