Vegan 'guru' charged after baby dies from suspected malnutrition
A Russian self-styled personal growth coach who advocates a vegan lifestyle has been arrested in connection with the death of his one-month-old son. The child died from apparent malnutrition and a lack of medical treatment.
Maksim Lyutyy, a 43-year-old resident of a village near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, has been placed in pre-trial custody after being charged on Sunday at a local court.
The mother of the child, Oksana Mironova, was moved from jail to house arrest last week. The infant was pronounced dead on March 8 when his parents took him to the hospital. The child was born at the couple’s home on February 11, investigators said.
Lyutyy is a fitness coach who provides advice to 64,000 followers on his Instagram page. He reportedly invites clients to a $500 per-head retreat, where he would explain his method for staying fit and living to the age of 150. The technique reportedly involves abstaining from animal products and cooked food, and complementing fruits and vegetables with the direct absorption of solar energy.
The coach claimed that he developed his approach after experiencing a spiritual awakening during a trip to India, and said he improved his health by quitting tobacco, alcohol and drugs thanks to the method.
Lyutyy and Mironova, who is in her mid-30s, were apparently mistrustful of the authorities and the healthcare system, and the fitness instructor is said to have assisted the delivery of the baby despite not being a certified medic.
The child did not undergo routine medical checks required for babies in Russia, and his very existence came as a surprise to officials. The couple also allegedly refused to call a doctor when the boy’s health began to deteriorate in the days prior to his death.
Lyutyy is suspected of subjecting the child to his specialist diet, denying him milk or formula. He also allegedly forced the infant to endure several 24-hour periods without food, purportedly to boost his resolve.
The charge against Lyutyy qualifies his actions as criminal and akin to physical abuse, but the allegation does not state that he caused his son’s death.
Lyutyy is facing up to seven years in prison if convicted. Mironova was charged with causing death through negligence, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.