Monday, April 21, 2014

Russian senate approves ban on US adoption of Russian children


Vladamir Putin, Photo:

President Putin has signaled he will sign the bill, seen as a retaliation to a recent US law

Russia’s upper parliament unanimously approved a bill on Wednesday that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children, in retaliation for a U.S. law that punishes Russians accused of human rights violations.

The bill, which President Vladimir Putin has hinted he will sign, would also outlaw some U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations and impose visa bans and asset freezes on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russian citizens.

It is Russia’s response to the Magnitsky Act, a law signed by U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this month to bar Russians accused of human rights violations from entering the U.S. and to freeze any assets they hold there.

The Federation Council, Russia’s upper parliament house, voted 143-0 to approve the bill, which has drawn condemnation from rights activists and Kremlin opponents who say lawmakers are playing a political game with the lives of children.

The bill was earlier passed by the lower house on Friday where 420 voted in favour and only seven against.

Last year 962 of 3,400 Russian children adopted by foreigners were taken in by American parents, making the United States the number one destination for Russian orphans.

Mr. Putin has signaled support for the measure in spite of unusual criticism from some government officials, including Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov; and a deputy prime minister, who have warned Mr. Putin that it could violate international agreements.

The U.S. law and the Russian response are adding tension to the relationship between the countries, which is already strained over issues ranging from Syria to Mr. Putin’s treatment of opponents and restrictions imposed on non-governmental organizations since he began a new term in May.


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