Americans to lose right to adopt in Russia

MOSCOW Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:54pm EST

1 of 7. Orphan children play music at an orphanage in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, December 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Vladimir Konstantinov

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A bill to ban Americans from adopting Russian children won preliminary parliamentary approval on Wednesday in a retaliatory gesture for a U.S. law punishing alleged Russian human rights violators.

Despite criticism of the measure by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, pro-Kremlin lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, and another that would bar Russian non-profit groups which receive funds from the United States.

Only four of 450 deputies in the lower house, the State Duma, opposed the proposals. The bill, expected to pass its final reading on Friday, still needs President Vladimir Putin's signature to become law.

The proposals were added to a bill which would bar entry to Americans who violate the rights of Russians abroad and freeze their assets, mirroring the so-called U.S. Magnitsky Act.

The tit-for-tat feud began when the U.S. Congress approved the trade bill that orders the United States to deny visas to Russian human rights violators. It was drawn up because of concern over the death in a Russian prison of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. It

Putin backed the original Duma bill but had signaled he wants to limit the spat with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration. The Kremlin says Obama will visit Russia early next year.

KREMLIN WORRIES ABOUT IMPACT

The Kremlin, worried about long-term damage to relations with Washington, distanced itself from the adoption measure on Wednesday, raising doubts about whether Putin will sign off on it.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the lawmakers' initiative as "tough and emotional" and the Kremlin's position as more "restrained".

Nationalist politicians have long viewed foreign adoptions of Russian children as an embarrassment that implies Russia cannot care for its own, but critics of the bill say children should not fall victim to political maneuvering.

Police said they detained 30 protesters for holding an unauthorized demonstration outside the Duma.

Some two dozen protesters stood in the freezing cold heckling deputies as they entered the building. One activist held up before-and-after pictures of a Russian child looking bruised, then happy with his new American parents.

"It deprives children of the possibility to grow up in families of loving parents," protester Natalya Tsymbalova said shortly before she was detained.

"To deprive children of this possibility is mean."

FOREIGN ADOPTIONS

Russia is the third most popular country for U.S. foreign adoptions after China and Ethiopia, according to the U.S. State Department. Last year, 962 orphans were adopted by Americans.

It is a statistic bemoaned by Russian politicians. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russians should not be adopted abroad - although he did not say whether he supported the bill.

"Foreign adoptions is a sign of ... our indifference," Medvedev said in televised comments on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Lavrov said a complete ban on U.S. adoptions would be wrong and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov criticized the idea on his Twitter micro blog.

Any ban on U.S. adoptions would go back on new rules agreed in July.

NGOS FIGHT FOR LIFE

The Duma also passed a bill that bans foreign-sponsored political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from working in Russia without registering as foreign agents and to ban people with double citizenships from leading those organizations.

NGOs, however, fight to continue their work in Russia.

"They may take away our registration, seize our office - don't know to whose advantage. But we can continue the work as an unregistered organization," Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), was quoted as saying by Interfax.

(This story has been corrected in paragraph 3 to say four, not 15, deputies opposed bill)

(Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya and Maria Tsvetkova, Whiting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Comments (4)
Walt_P wrote:
Putin is a shabby, miserable, small-minded leader. If Russians are counting on him to restore their greatness, their investment is ill-spent.

Dec 19, 2012 12:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MontanaJoe wrote:
That Walt is just plain wrong.. Putin is the answer that Russia needs to be able to move forward and seperate themselves from the rest of the world, He is forward thinking.. They want to become part of Europes monetary system “the Euro” and in order for Russia to do this they need to cut all ties with the “Western Society”.. Besides, When the Soviet Union was alive and well the People where better off, they had jobs, food, shelter, and a little money left in pockets.. but because we here in America think we have the answer for all countries and how all countries should behave both politically and personally, we judge countries like we own them.. First and foremost, I am glad that Putin is finally fed up with the American government, and is telling the USA to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine,, Who are we to tell other countries how to live,, Who are we to force other countries into our policies,, Here in America our government can not even take care of our people,, let alone take care of our economy,, I think that before we tell other countries how to act, we need to be able to set that example in all aspects of life not just a few areas.. So, Mr. Putin, keep running Russia the way you see fit and keep telling the USA to stay out of Russia..
By the way anyone ever think why Putin and Russia as happy to see Obama reelected,, maybe because he lacks backbone to stand up to anyone, and he is easy to fool.. Think about it, Obama has not covered Foreign relations very well, not when he has Stinkin Clinton as Sec of State.. No one will take this administration seriously,, Hell, if you can get America to agree on anything why should the World listen to us.

Dec 19, 2012 3:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
kommy wrote:
Russian parliament acted on its own, Putin just let it run.

pretty smart move, hit Americans where they are weakest- unable or ignorant to procreate themselves, and shopping for babies abroad.

Now there will be no white babies, and all your neighbors will finger-point at your Chinese or African purchase.

About the NGO- good too, why foreigners can run those, and no more american blood moneys for “democracy”.

Dec 19, 2012 7:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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