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Russian president expects to sign ban on U.S. adoptions

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he sees no reason not to do so. The bill is seen as retaliation against an anti-corruption law signed by President Obama.

December 27, 2012|By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said he sees no reason not to sign a bill banning adoptions by Americans but wants some time to study it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he sees no reason not to sign a bill… (Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles…)

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Thursday that he expects to sign a measure banning adoptions of Russian children by Americans, an act intended as retaliation for an anti-corruption law signed by President Obama this month.

"There are probably many places in the world where the standard of living is higher than here," Putin said in televised remarks during a Kremlin meeting. "So what? Shall we send all our children there? Maybe we should all move there too, shouldn't we?"

Lashing out at the United States for behaving "with a defiant arrogance," the Russian president said he sees no reason not sign the adoption legislation, but needs some time to study it before coming to a final decision.

The measure, which has passed both houses of the parliament, is intended as a response to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, passed by Congress and signed by Obama, which denies U.S. visas to Russian officials associated with the prosecution and death of a Moscow lawyer and whistle-blower who accused Russian tax officials of corruption.

The Russian response is called the Dima Yakovlev bill, in memory of a Russian boy who died of heatstroke after his adoptive American father left him in a parked car for hours with the windows closed. The case stirred widespread anger in Russia.

The Yakovlev bill would ban adoption of Russian children by U.S. families as of Jan. 1 and also deny visas to selected U.S. officials, as well as to American parents who have abused adopted Russian children and judges who fail to punish them.

The adoption clause has received widespread attention in Russia as well as the United States and has been criticized by civil society and human rights groups. Prominent opponents have included Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

It would immediately affect about 1,500 children whose adoption cases are in Russian courts awaiting approval.

Over the last two decades, U.S. families have adopted more than 60,000 children from Russia. Nineteen have reportedly died in accidents or from abuse and neglect, a figure cited by Russian lawmakers to justify a ban. Some have gone further, repeating discredited Internet rumors about Russian children being adopted for organ transplantation or sexual abuse, and drawing links to the gay rights movement.

"Even if one-tenth of [60,000] orphans will be tortured, used for organs transplanting or for sexual exploitation, given that there are 9 million same-sex marriages in the United States, the remaining 50,000 may be used in the future to be recruited for war, maybe even with Russia," said Svetlana Goryacheva, a member of the State Duma, the lower house.

Her figure for same-sex marriages is far off the mark: As of slightly more than a year ago, the Census Bureau put the number at 130,000.

By various accounts there are more than 300,000 orphans in Russia, and about 7,000 are adopted by Russians annually. Eighty percent of foreign adoptions are by Americans.

Russian political analyst Alexander Minkin predicted that Putin would sign the adoption ban "because, for him, these orphans are not human beings but pawns and tools in a political game."

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