A mother faces losing her son, 10, after she locked him alone in the family flat with only dry rice to eat and vanished for eight days with her dog.
Natalya Azarenkova, 31, has been detained by Russian police and the starving boy named Mikhail taken to hospital.
His ordeal came to light when he, after four days alone, shouted to neighbours for help in an apartment block in Peredelkino, Moscow.
His door was locked from the outside and he begged them not to call the emergency services because he feared he would be sent to an orphanage and never see his mother again.
Starving Mikhail told how she had left him with rice - but no water to cook it - after saying she was going to walk their dog.
During her absence, she appears to have looked after the family’s pet Dzaina while leaving the boy at home alone in a dirty flat.
Power and water were cut off in the cockroach-infested apartment.
Neighbours lowered food and juice to him from a balcony on the flat above, but when his mother did not return the following day, they called emergency services out of fear for the boy’s life.
This was five days after she disappeared. After eight days police detained the mother while she was walking her dog.
“I cannot imagine how the child managed to survive five days there,” neighbour Dmitry, who was present when officers forced open the door, said.
“There are a lot of cockroaches, flies everywhere, an appalling smell.”
Despite the horror, the boy was devoted to his mother, locals said. His father died two years ago.
Azarenkova admitted she had locked him in the flat, claiming she had left enough rice for two days.
She said she had been with friends but in a police interrogation video failed to explain why she had left the boy so long.
“I need my son, I want to fix everything,” she said.
Azarenkova may now face prison and being deprived of her rights to raise the child, say reports citing law enforcement.
The boy is undergoing checks in hospital.
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