Russia’s Putin signs law barring US adoption

Saturday, December 29, 2012
Putin in a State Council Presidium meeting on December, 27. [Photo: The Presidential Press and Information Office] 
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a contentious bill into a law on Friday that bans US citizens from adopting Russian children and imposes other sanctions in retaliation for a new US human rights law that he says is poisoning relations.

Even though the proposal, had drew fierce criticism from Russian liberals and subsequently some top country officials including the foreign minister openly opposed the bill and Mr. Putin himself had been noncommittal about it last week, but he signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where both houses passed it overwhelmingly.

The law, which has ignited outrage among Russian liberals and child rights' advocates, takes effect on Jan. 1.

Hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial law banning the adoption of Russian children by American families, the US State Department on Friday called the measure “politically motivated.”

We deeply regret Russia’s passage of a law ending inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia,” State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti on Friday.

The adoption ban is part of Russia’s response to the US Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama earlier this month.

Critics of the adoption ban said it would keep tens of thousands of children, especially those with disabilities, in Russia’s orphanage system.

Figures from the US State Department show more than 60,000 Russian children adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including 962 last year.

Vladimir Lukin, head of the Russian Human Rights Commission and a former ambassador to Washington, said he would challenge the law in the Constitutional Court.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia while about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child. The U.S. is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children more than 60,000 of them have been taken in by Americans over the past two decades.

A few lawmakers even claimed that some Russian children were adopted by Americans only to be used for organ transplants or become sex toys or cannon fodder for the U.S. Army. A spokesman with Russia’s dominant Orthodox Church said that children adopted by foreigners and raised outside the church will not enter God’s kingdom.

Russian officials blame US adoptive parents for the deaths of at least 19 of those children.

The bill was introduced in reaction to a U.S. law known as the Magnitsky Act that imposes sanctions on Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses.

It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blowing Russian lawyer who was physically abused and died in a Moscow prison in 2009.

The adoptions ban was unanimously approved on December 26 by the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. It had been passed earlier by the lower chamber, the State Duma.

The bill has further increased tensions in U.S.-Russian relations, which were already strained by the adoption in the United States of the Magnitsky Act.
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