Sold for spare parts by his grandmother

ANDREY should be dead, and he knows it. Ask Andrey what was meant to happen to him and he will gesture at his legs, making a cutting motion. He mimes a knife slicing open his chest and his heart being pulled out, and then he draws his finger across his throat.

It was his grandmother, Nina Tkacheva, who came up with the plan. Abandoned by his mother, Andrey was living in an orphanage outside the town of Ryazan, about 130 miles south of Moscow.

Then one day, three years ago, Tkacheva turned up to collect him. She had arranged for a wealthy friend to take him to Disneyland Paris, she said.

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Andrey was as excited, as any five-year-old would be at the prospect of such a trip. He went with his grandmother to the big square with the fountain in Ryazan, and while she chatted to the expensively-dressed businessman who was going to take him away, Andrey sat with his Uncle Sergei and Aunt Larisa in a nearby cafe. The businessman handed Tkacheva a bag - and suddenly the square was full of police officers.

"What’s the problem?" Tkacheva asked the police. But they knew the truth. The bag was full of dollars - 65,000 worth of dollars - and there was no trip to Disneyland. Tkacheva had sold Andrey so that he could be taken out of Russia, killed and his organs used for transplants in a foreign clinic.

Scared, Andrey tried to run, but he was rugby-tackled by a policeman. His aunt and uncle were arrested. Andrey did not understand what was happening. All he knew was that his ticket to Disneyland was disappearing into a police van and he was going back to the orphanage. He burst into tears.

A policeman, trying to console him, handed Andrey a bar of chocolate. Still unaware of what his grandmother had done, the boy broke it in two and ran over to her, offering her half. The police led him away, put him in a car, drove him back to the orphanage and the room he shared with eight other children.

And there the story could have ended, had it not been for Shaun and Josephine Moncur. A couple of evenings later, they were watching the television in their home outside Glasgow when a news report from Russia came on. It told the story of Andrey and reported that Nina Tkacheva, 54, was now facing ten years in jail.

But what caught Mr and Mrs Moncur’s eyes was the picture of the fair-haired boy. He was the spitting image of their own son Andrew, eight. Then Andrew walked in and found himself looking at what appeared to be a picture of himself on the television. Something clicked. The couple decided they would try to adopt Andrey.

It was the start of a battle against bureaucracy that lasted almost three years and only ended this June, when they flew back to Britain with Andrey at their side.

Ask Mr Moncur now what it was that made them do it and he still finds it difficult to explain.

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"I don’t know what it was," he says. "We’d never even thought about adopting a child before Until we saw his face.

"There are millions of kids who’ve got stories worse than his, but seeing the face on the television it was like seeing one of our own kids. And there was the betrayal of his granny - I think that was it. And there was the thing with the chocolate and how he broke it in half and gave some to his granny. He hadn’t a scooby about was going on."

Mr and Mrs Moncur already have five boys of their own: Barry, William, Mark, Andrew and Ross. They live in a big house away from the city and run their own business.

They could have put the fact Andrey looked so much like their sons down to coincidence and left it at that. Instead they started making inquiries, contacting the news organisation that put out the story, discovering that Andrey had been taken back to the orphanage.

"We were quite concerned," said Mr Moncur. "We were told he was in care in Ryazan. We thought he would be adopted by a Russian couple because of the exposure it had. It was news here so we thought it would be so much bigger over there,

but that was not going to happen because of the situation over there. They don’t have a culture of adoption."

It looked like Andrey was going to spend his childhood in the orphanage, where the director believed in the importance of outdoor physical exercise, even when the temperature stood at -24C.

The Moncurs then contacted the education department in Ryazan. They had decided to apply for adoption. Mrs Moncur, meanwhile, enrolled on a course at Strathclyde University to start learning Russian.

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The application process was a battle from start to finish. With eight months of social work investigation to endure and endless shuffling between government departments, it was

27 December, 2002, before the paperwork, all 140 pages of it, was complete. They began to make arrangements to go to Russia.

"We were quite excited - we didn’t know what to expect of the country itself. I’d never been to Russia before," said Mr Moncur.

The temperature in Moscow when they arrived in early February last year was -20C. There was snow on the ground and a bitter wind blowing through the station as they stood waiting with their Russian lawyer for the train to take them down to Ryazan.

The orphanage stood 15 miles outside the city, two blocks of bedrooms connected by a corridor housing the dining hall.

"The wee man was in suit trousers and a waistcoat, all dressed up in the best things they could find in his size, but the trousers were rolled up and pulled up. He looked nervous and I felt sorry for him," said Mr Moncur, talking of the moment they first met Andrey.

"We were taken through to the nursery section. We’d taken some clothes for him - which were far too big because we were basing them on our own kids - and a little football table to play with him and he bonded very, very quickly.

"We had been worried about whether he was going to want to leave - would he want us? - but we were quite overjoyed.

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"He was told who we were and he started playing, and at the end of the first day, at four o’clock, he started putting all the toys away. He thought he was leaving but the social worker told him he had to have his medicals.

" We felt heartbroken, but he told her, ‘Why do I have to have medicals, I’m perfectly healthy?’ He knew he was OK, he knew that no-one would be prepared to part with all that money for something that wasn’t perfect. He knew what had been planned."

Next to their hotel in Ryazan was a play area and the couple asked permission to take Andrey back with them, but that needed the agreement of the orphanage director and he was away. Andrey was deflated.

On their last day, though, word came through that the director had agreed. "We got him to the play area and he only had an hour but he crammed one hell of a lot into that hour. He played on everything," said Mr Moncur. "He rushed back and told the social worker, ‘Now I believe they will come back for me.’ That was quite touching - it was a good point for us to leave on that note."

For six weeks the Moncurs had to wait, the cooling-off period allowing all sides to think about what they were doing, but finally word came from the lawyer to say that they had a court date.

Back to Russia they went. The courtroom was a bare, intimidating room, a steel cage at one side where prisoners would normally stand. There were questions, pauses for translation and then it was over. "The judge said to us, ‘Congratulations, you are true friends of Russia and we are forever in your debt’," recalled Mr Moncur. "After that, it was just putting the paperwork together, getting the adoption certificate and the birth certificate."

They couldn’t wait. They spoke to the orphanage and the staff agreed that they could drive over and take Andrey back to the hotel while they waited.

"He was playing with the other kids but as soon as he saw the car he rushed over and there was a big hug for mum. He was quite boisterous - he wanted away there and then," said Mr Moncur. "He was very nervous in case we changed our minds."

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Andrey said goodbye to his friends and got into the car for the drive back to the hotel, where they had arranged for an extra bed to be placed in their room for him. They need not have bothered. That night, for the first time, he slept between them in their bed.

The next day, they went for a walk around Ryazan, Andrey excitedly pointing out to them the square.

"He told us, ‘This is where my granny was lifted. She was going to sell me for organs’," said Mr Moncur.

Waiting for a visa from the British embassy, there was another delay. Andrey, seven, had to be interviewed before the visa could be granted. He was asked if he was excited about going to England. Andrey replied crossly that he was going to Scotland. Was he excited about going on an aeroplane? Andrey had had enough. He told the embassy woman that she was an idiot and he was not answering any more stupid questions. The translator paraphrased, diplomatically. With their flight due to leave that night and with the embassy due to close in two minutes, the visa was granted.

They arrived at Heathrow the next day, 26 June, Andrey initially disappointed that he was in England, not Scotland, but he made a friend on the train journey north and it was quickly forgotten. When they arrived at his new home, he disappeared to explore.

At first, Andrey could not see the point of learning English - after all, he could say "no" and "ice cream" and what other words could a boy need? - but he is listening and picking up words. He gets on well with their other children and is going to school, accompanied by Mrs Moncur, although only for the mornings at the moment.

More than two months after he arrived, the Moncurs are pleased with the way he is settling in.

He sleeps alone and suffers no nightmares. But ask him what happened on that day in October three years ago and he still remembers.

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