MOSCOW - The upper house of the Russian parliament unanimously
approved a ban on adoptions to the United States on Wednesday.
All eyes are now on the Kremlin as the bill goes to President
Putin for his signature.
The ban was added last week to a broader bill retaliating for
human rights sanctions signed by President Obama earlier this
month. Putin has expressed support for the broader bill, which
reciprocates the sanctions, but dodged questions last week about
the adoption ban.
At stake are the cases of 46 Russian children whose adoptions
would be frozen if the bill becomes law, according to Russia's
children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhav. He said those children would
receive priority to be adopted by Russian families.
The proposed ban has split Russian society. Outside the
parliament at least seven people were detained while protesting
the bill, according to RIA Novosti. Human rights advocates have
urged Russian authorities not to move forward with the ban,
saying it denies Russian orphans a home with a family.
It has also caused a rare division among the Russian government.
Several top officials, including Russia's foreign minister and
education minister have come out against the ban. A leaked memo
from another top official suggested its passage would cause
Russia to breach several international treaties, including a
recently enacted adoption agreement between the United States and
Others, like Astakhav, have supported the measure, saying that
Russian children should remain in Russia.
A recent poll by the Public Opinion Foundation found a majority
of Russians supported the ban, while a quarter opposed it and
another quarter expressed no opinion.
Russia is the third most popular place for Americans to adopt
children. According to the State Department, over 45,000 Russian
children have been adopted by American families since the fall of
the Soviet Union in 1991.
Russian officials, however, have pointed to the cases of 19
Russian adopted children who have been killed in the United
States as evidence of broader mistreatment of Russian children by
their adopted parents. The adoption ban bill was named after Dima
Yakovlev, who died in 2008 after his adoptive father left him in
a car in a Washington, D.C., suburb. The bill also slaps
sanctions on Americans accused of abusing Russian children and
judges deemed to have provided them with lenient sentences.
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