Russian lawmakers back adoption ban in dispute with US

Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:57pm EST
 

By Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's lower house of parliament approved on Friday a proposed law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, in retaliation for U.S. human rights legislation which Vladimir Putin says is poisoning relations.

The State Duma overwhelmingly backed a bill which also would outlaw U.S.-funded "non-profit organizations that engage in political activity", extending what critics say is a clampdown on Putin's opponents since he returned to the presidency in May.

The measure responds to a new U.S. law known as the Magnitsky Act, passed by the U.S. Congress to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials accused of involvement in the death in custody of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.

Washington's ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, said the Russian bill unfairly "linked the fate of orphaned children to unrelated political issues," while the U.S. State Department rejected any parallels with the Magnitsky Act.

Putin hinted at a news conference on Thursday that he would sign it into law once the Senate votes on it next week, describing it as an emotional but appropriate response to an unfriendly move by the United States.

"It is a myth that all children who land in American families are happy and surrounded by love," Olga Batalina, a deputy with Putin's ruling United Russia party, said in defense of the new measures.

In a pointed echo of the Magnitsky Act, the Russian legislation has become known as the Dima Yakovlev law, after a Russian-born toddler who died after his American adoptive father left him locked in a sweltering car.

The law has outraged Russian liberals who say children are being made victims of politics. Some government officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have expressed reservations about the legislation.   Continued...

 
A general view shows the Russian State Duma headquarters, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow January 30, 2010. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin