* Bill aims to retaliate against U.S. Magnitsky Act
* Putin hints he will sign the bill into law
* Legislation will also outlaw U.S.-funded political NGOs
* Measure likely to damage relations with Washington
MOSCOW, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Russia’s lower house of parliament approved a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children on Friday, retaliating against U.S. moves to punish Russian officials linked to the death of an anti-corruption lawyer.
The bill approved by the State Duma will also outlaw U.S.-funded lobby and campaign groups involved in political activity, increasing pressure on civil rights groups critical of President Vladimir Putin.
Mirroring U.S. legislation known as the Magnitsky Act, named after lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian jail in 2009, the law imposes a visa ban and asset freeze on U.S. citizens accused of violating the rights of Russians abroad.
Putin hinted at a news conference on Thursday that he would sign it into law once the Senate votes on it next week.
The spat is overshadowing efforts to improve relations with U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration.
Signalling Moscow is worried about long-term damage to trade and diplomatic ties, Russia’s veteran Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has spoken out against the ban on U.S. adoptions - a rare break from the Kremlin’s official line.
In Russia, the move has outraged Russian liberals who say orphans are being made victims of politics. Some officials in Putin’s United Russia party, including the country’s education minister, have expressed concern.
The provision targeting non-governmental organisations, or NGOs, has also upset international human rights groups who accuse Putin of clamping down on civil society and dissent in his new six-year term as president which began in May.