Russian parliament approves ban on American adoptions

Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:16am EST
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By Steve Gutterman and Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children went to President Vladimir Putin for his signature on Wednesday after winning final approval from parliament in retaliation for a U.S. law that targets Russian human rights abusers.

Putin has strongly hinted he will sign the bill, which would also outlaw some U.S.-funded non-governmental groups and impose visa bans and asset freezes on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russians.

The Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, voted unanimously to approve the bill, which has clouded U.S.-Russia relations and outraged Russian liberals who say lawmakers are playing a political game with the lives of children.

U.S.-Russia ties are already strained over issues ranging from Syria to the Kremlin's treatment of opponents and restrictions imposed on civil society groups since Putin, in power since 2000, began a new six-year term in May.

The bill has also drawn unusual criticism from senior government officials including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Olga Golodets, a deputy prime minister who warned the Kremlin that it may violate an international convention on children's rights.

Lavrov said last week that the ban would be "wrong", and that Russia should stand by a long-awaited bilateral accord that improves its ability to keep tabs on children adopted by Americans, which entered into force on November 1.

But Lavrov appears to have backed down. Foreign Ministry officials said on Wednesday that the bill would not violate the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Russia would take steps to halt the bilateral agreement.

Putin has described the bill as an emotional but appropriate response to U.S. legislation he said was poisoning relations.   Continued...

Orphan children have a meal at an orphanage in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Vladimir Konstantinov