Putin rips of­fi­cials in U.S. over adop­tions

Austin American-Statesman - - NEWS - By David M. Herszenhorn and Ellen Barry

MOSCOW — At a muchan­tic­i­pated news con­fer­ence Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin skirted the ques­tion of whether he would sup­port a ban on adop­tions of Rus­sian chil­dren by U.S. ci­ti­zens, which was ap­proved by Rus­sian par­lia­men­tar­i­ans but re­quires his sig­na­ture to be­come law.

Putin said he would have to read the text of the amend­ment be­fore mak­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion, and noted that most U.S. adop­tive par­ents are “hon­est and de­cent peo­ple.”

How­ever, he lashed out at U.S. of­fi­cials, say­ing they had al­lowed child abuse to go un­pun­ished and blocked Rus­sia’s ef­forts to mon­i­tor ad­ju­di­ca­tion of such cases.

“This is about the at­ti­tude of Amer­i­can of­fi­cials in sit­u­a­tions in­volv­ing the vi­o­la­tion of chil­dren’s rights,” he said, af­ter a Rus­sian jour­nal­ist crit­i­cized the pro­posed ban. “Do you con­sider this nor­mal? You like this? What are you, a sado­masochist? There is no need to hu­mil­i­ate the coun­try! We do not for­bid adop­tion by for­eign­ers in gen­eral. There are other coun­tries be­sides the United States.”

Putin crit­i­cized a law signed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama last week that seeks to pun­ish Rus­sian ci­ti­zens who are ac­cused of vi­o­lat­ing hu­man rights and that served as the spur for the pro­posed adop­tion ban. He said the U.S. ini­tia­tive had been put for­ward by of­fi­cials re­luc­tant to part with Cold-War-era prej­u­dices.

“They just can­not do with­out it,” he said. “They are try­ing to stay in the past. This is very bad, and it poi­sons our re­la­tions.”

He went on to ques­tion Amer­i­cans’ mo­ral author­ity to chal­lenge Rus­sia’s hu­man rights record. The U.S. law, the so-called Mag­nit­sky Act, is named for Sergei Mag­nit­sky, a Rus­sian lawyer who was ar­rested af­ter try­ing to ex­pose a huge government tax fraud and later died in prison in 2009.

“What are our part­ners in the United States wor­ried about? About hu­man rights in our prisons?” Putin said. “But they them­selves have many prob­lems.”

If Putin al­lows the adop­tion bill to go for­ward, it will be the most force­ful anti-Amer­i­can ac­tion of his new term, un­do­ing a bi­lat­eral agree­ment on in­ter­na­tional adop­tions that was rat­i­fied just this year and crush­ing the as­pi­ra­tions of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans hop­ing to adopt Rus­sian or­phans.

The bill still faces two more leg­isla­tive votes, and even be­fore he de­cides to sign or veto it, Putin is likely to have huge sway over the bill’s fi­nal form when it emerges from Par­lia­ment.

The State De­part­ment said it would not spec­u­late about what the fi­nal bill might look like.

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