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Russian parliament considers anti-US adoption bill

The bill is one part of a larger measure by angry Russian lawmakers, retaliating against a recently signed US law that calls for sanctions against the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia
Image: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

SEVERAL PROTESTERS WERE detained this morning outside the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament as it prepared to vote on a controversial measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

The bill was endorsed by the lower house last week and would be sent to President Vladimir Putin to sign if the Federation Council votes for it on Wednesday. It is one part of a larger measure by angry lawmakers retaliating against a recently signed US law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators.

Some top government officials, including the foreign minister, have spoken flatly against the bill, arguing that the measure would be in violation with Russia’s constitution and international obligations.

Several people with posters protesting the bill were detained outside the Federation Council Wednesday morning. “Children get frozen in the Cold War,” one poster read.

The vote is expected in early afternoon.

Critics of the bill say it victimizes orphans by depriving them of an opportunity to escape often-dismal Russian orphanages. There are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted in the United States in the past 20 years.

Dima Yakovlev

The bill is named in honour of Dima Yakovlev, a Russian toddler who was adopted by Americans and then died in 2008 after his father left him in a car in broiling heat for hours. The father was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Russian lawmakers argue that by banning adoptions to the US they would be protecting children and encouraging adoptions inside Russia.

Russian children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov told the Interfax news agency that 46 children who were about to be adopted by US citizens would stay in Russia — despite court rulings in some of these cases authorising the adoptions.

Astakhov also insisted that all adoptions would be halted once the bill is signed by Putin, but a senior lawmaker at the Federation Council insisted it cannot be enacted immediately.

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Council’s foreign affairs committee, said that a bilateral Russian-US agreement binds Russia to notify of a halt in adoptions 12 months in advance.

Putin hasn’t committed to signing the bill but referred to it as a legitimate response to the new US law.

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Associated Press

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