Putin says he will ban US adoptions of Russian children

Critics in Russia and abroad accuse the president of playing politics with children's lives

Topics: Russia, Adoption, Vladimir Putin, US-Russian relations, Human Rights,

Russian President Vladimir said Thursday that he is likely to sign a bill which would ban the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. According to the New York Times, a number of Russian lawmakers framed the adoption bill as retaliation for the recent American ban on Russian citizens  accused of human rights violations traveling to the United States or owning U.S. assets.

Putin said that he still needed to review the bill’s final text but that he “intend[ed] to sign the law,” adding that he also planned to beef up care  for disadvantaged children within Russia with “a presidential decree changing the procedure of helping orphaned children, children left without parental care, and especially children who are in a disadvantageous situation due to their health problems.”

Opponents of the adoption bill have accused Putin of putting politics above regard for Russian children, nearly 1,000 of whom were adopted by U.S. parents in 2011. In 46 known cases for which paperwork has been processed for U.S. citizens to adopt a Russian child, the adoption will be nullified. According to the Times, Russian ombudsman for children’s rights Pavel Astakhov — a supporter of the adoption ban — spoke coldly about the broken off adoptions. “There is no need to go out and make a tragedy out of it,” he said.

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However, as Russia Today reported, many thousands of Russians have spoken out against the ban:

As the parliament started considering the ban, many Russians demonstrated near the State Duma HQ that resulted in arrests. Others collected over 100,000 signatures in support of the amendment’s cancellation (the law obliges the Russian Parliament to treat any petition with such support as an official legislative initiative). Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Social Policies Minister Tatyana Golodets and Science and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov also spoke against the bill as did the top Human Rights officials.

United Nations Children’s Fund has officially asked the Russian Government to be guided solely by the best interests of children in determining its policies and actions.

Although proponents of the law have emphasized instances of abuse by U.S. parents against adopted Russian children. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Russian statistics say 19 adopted children have died in the U.S. since the early 1990s, from a total of about 70,000 adopted.”

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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