Several protesters were arrested today outside the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament as it prepared to vote on a controversial measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children.
The bill was endorsed by the lower house last week and would be sent to president Vladimir Putin to sign if the Federation Council votes for it today. It is one part of a larger measure by angry MPs retaliating against a recently signed US law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
Some top government officials, including the foreign minister, have spoken flatly against the bill, arguing that the measure would be in violation of Russia’s constitution and international obligations.
Several people with posters protesting against the bill were arrested outside the Federation Council today. “Children get frozen in the Cold War,” one poster read.
Critics of the bill say it victimises orphans by depriving them of an opportunity to escape often-dismal Russian orphanages. There are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to Unicef. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted in the United States in the past 20 years.
The bill is named after Dima Yakovlev, a Russian toddler who was adopted by Americans and then died in 2008 after his father left him in a car in broiling heat for hours. The father was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Russian MPs argue that by banning adoptions to the US they would be protecting children and encouraging adoptions inside Russia.
Russian children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov told the Interfax news agency that 46 children who were about to be adopted by US citizens would stay in Russia – despite court rulings in some of these cases authorising the adoptions.