Friday, December 28, 2012

Russia: Putin Signs Bill Prohibiting Americans from Adopting Russian Orphans

According to The Associated Press, President Vladimir Putin signed into law early on Friday (December 28) a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, abruptly terminating the prospects for more than 50 children preparing to join new families in the US.

COMMENT: The move is part of a harsh response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be human rights violators. Although some top Russian officials, including the foreign minister, openly opposed the bill, Putin signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where it passed both houses overwhelmingly. 

The law technically takes effect on January 1, 2013, yet children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said 52 children who were in the pipeline for US adoption would remain in Russia

The ban is in response to a measure signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this month that calls for sanctions against Russians assessed to be human rights violators. 

The US law stems from the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested after accusing officials of a $230 million tax fraud. He was repeatedly denied medical treatment and died in jail in 2009. Russian rights groups claimed he was severely beaten.

Vladimir Lukin, head of the Russian Human Rights Commission and a former ambassador to Washington, said he would challenge the law in the Constitutional Court. 

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia while about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child. The US is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children: more than 60,000 of them have been taken in by Americans over the past two decades.