Ombudsman warns Russia could end foreign adoption

Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:22am EDT
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By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin children's rights ombudsman said on Tuesday Russia could outlaw foreign adoptions if the United States did not agree to a treaty governing adoptions of Russian children by American parents.

Moscow is pushing for an adoption treaty after a U.S. woman sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia alone on a plane earlier this month, shocking both Russians and Americans and stoking long-standing tension over the issue.

Pavel Astakhov told Reuters that the government would take legislative steps to formalize a freeze on adoptions by U.S. families if the United States did not agree to such a treaty in principle by mid-May and set a deadline for its signing.

But with emotions high after the return by a Tennessee nurse of Artyom Savelyev -- put on a transatlantic flight with a note describing him as mentally unstable and violent -- he said Russian lawmakers could go further and bar foreign adoptions.

"It is better to resolve this issue within the law than to seek changes in the law and face the reality that international adoptions could be prohibited altogether," Astakhov said.

His remarks in an interview appeared aimed to increase pressure on the United States ahead of visit by U.S. consular diplomats this week to discuss adoption.

Astakhov said Russia would hand the U.S. delegation the proposed text of the treaty, and expect a clear response at a subsequent meeting he said would take place on May 12.

"For us, it will be sufficient if they agree to sign such a treaty, accept the draft as a basis, and set a timetable for signing the treaty," Astakhov said.   Continued...