Russian parliament approves bill banning American adoptions

A bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children yesterday went to president Vladimir Putin for his signature after winning final approval from parliament in retaliation for a US law meant to punish Russian human rights abusers.

Russian parliament approves bill banning American adoptions

Putin has strongly hinted he will sign the bill, which also outlaws some US-funded non-governmental groups and hits back at US sanctions by imposing visa bans and asset freezes on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russians.

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

The bill has drawn criticism, including from foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Olga Golodets, a deputy prime minister, who said it may violate an international convention on children’s rights.

Putin has described it as an emotional but appropriate response to US legislation he said was poisoning relations.

US president Barack Obama this month signed off on the Magnitsky Act, which imposes visa bans and asset freezes on Russians accused of human rights violations, including those linked to the death in custody of an anti-graft lawyer in 2009.

The ban on American adoptions takes Russia’s response a step further, playing into deep sensitivity among Russians, and the government in particular, over adoptions by foreigners, which skyrocketed after the 1991 Soviet collapse.

The bill is named for Dima Yakovlev, a Russian- born toddler who died of heat stroke when his adoptive American father forgot him in a car for nine hours in 2008.

“It is immoral to send our children abroad to any country,” said Federation Council deputy Valery Shtyrov in a one-sided debate peppered with hawkish rhetoric before the 143-0 vote.

Child rights advocates say the law, due to take effect on Jan 1 if signed by Putin, will deprive children of a way out of Russia’s overcrowded orphanage system.

“This is the most vile law passed since Putin came to power,” said opposition activist Boris Nemtsov, adding he was certain Putin would sign.

Police said that they had arrested seven people protesting against the law outside the Federation Council.

Nevertheless, lawmaker Gennady Makin said the Magnitsky Act demanded a tough response. “He who comes to Russia with a sword dies by that sword,” he said.

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