Ottawa Citizen

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.

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