Russian parliament approves ban on adoptions by Americans
Law seen as Kremlin’s retaliation for sanctions
MOSCOW • Defying a storm of domestic and international criticism, Russia moved toward finalizing a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, as parliament’s upper house voted unanimously Wednesday in favour of a measure that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign into law.
The bill is widely seen as the Kremlin’s retaliation against an American law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators. It comes as Putin takes an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the West, brushing aside concerns about a crackdown on dissent.
Dozens of Russian children close to being adopted by American families now will almost certainly be blocked from leaving the country. The law also cuts off the main international adoption route for Russian children stuck in often dismal orphanages: More than 60,000 Russian youngsters have been adopted in the U.S. in the past 20 years.
All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has sparked criticism from both the U.S. and Russian officials, activists and artists, who say it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape the squalor of orphanage life. The vote comes days after parliament’s lower house overwhelmingly approved the ban.
Seven people with posters protesting the bill were detained outside the Council before Wednesday’s vote. “Children get frozen in the Cold War,” one poster read. Some 60 people rallied in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.
The bill is part of larger legislation by Putin-allied legislators retaliating against a recently signed U.S. law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators. Although Putin has not explicitly committed to signing the bill, he strongly defended it in a news conference last week as “a sufficient response” to the new U.S. law.
Originally, Russia’s legislators had cobbled together something of a titfor-tat response to the U.S. law, providing for travel sanctions and the seizure of financial assets in Russia of Americans determined to have violated the rights of Russians. But it was expanded to include the adoption measure and call for a ban on any organizations that are engaged in political activities if they receive funding from U.S. citizens or are determined to be a threat to Russia’s interests.