Putin signs adoption ban

On Friday, President Vladimir Putin, of Russia, signed into law a ban on adoptions of Russian Children by U.S. citizens. This law is in response to a law President Barack Obama signed called the Magnitsky Act, which imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions to human rights abusers in the country.

I heard one interesting remark regarding this controversial ban on the news the other day. One lady said how she finds it interesting Russia decided to respond to the law in America about human rights abusers in Russia, by enacting a law that prohibits these children, who are innocent, the most vulnerable and have now become politicized, from getting some of the most basic human rights: right to life, right to freedom of movement and right to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself.” To find a full list of all human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, please click here.

I find that statement, and Russia’s actions, ironic, because by enacting this law Russia is further proving why the U.S. law was put into place.

Below is an article written by the Wall Street Journal on this controversial decision by Russia.

Putin Signs Adoption Ban, Putting Pending Cases in Limbo

MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into a law a controversial ban on adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens, ordering his government to take a range of steps to make it easier for Russians to adopt orphans.

The law, which has drawn fierce criticism from Russian liberals and even some top government officials for drawing children into the center of a political battle, will take effect Jan. 1, officials said. It leaves in legal limbo about 50 children who were in the final phases of adoption.

Initially, a Kremlin spokesman said adoptions would stop from Jan. 1. Later, the spokesman told a Russian radio station that six adoptions that had received final approval from Russian courts would be allowed to continue, even if the U.S. parents haven’t yet picked up the children. Other Russian officials have said orphans originally destined for families in the U.S. would be redirected to new adoptive parents inside Russia.

The adoption ban was included in a package of measures the Kremlin pushed through parliament to retaliate for a new U.S. law aimed at punishing alleged Russian human-rights violators. That law was named for Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison after exposing what he said was a $230 million fraud perpetrated by senior Russian police officials. Russian officials insist his death was an accident.

Also on Friday, a Moscow court dismissed the charges against the last of the prison officials implicated in the Magnitsky case.

The move was criticized by Mr. Magnitsky’s former client, hedge fund Hermitage Capital.

“Not a single official responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s false arrest, torture and death or the crimes he had uncovered has been prosecuted by the Russian authorities,” Hermitage said Friday. “There is no doubt that people responsible for Magnitsky’s death are being protected by the president of Russia.”

Kremlin officials have repeatedly denied any coverup.

The Magnitsky Act has soured relations between Washington and Moscow, which views it as a hypocritical attempt by the U.S. to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs. The law Mr. Putin signed Friday includes similar visa and financial sanctions against U.S. officials alleged to be involved in human-rights violations, as well as tough new limits on U.S.-funded civic groups operating in Russia.

U.S. officials have denounced the measure, and U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell expressed “deep regret” Friday over the law. But more senior U.S. officials haven’t commented publicly, and both sides appear eager to limit the fallout of the tit-for-tat moves.

Russia is the No. 3 source of international adoptions for the U.S., after China and Ethiopia, according to State Department data. About 70,000 Russian children have been adopted in the U.S. in the last two decades, though the flow has fallen to just under 1,000 annually in recent years.

Russian officials have highlighted 19 cases over the last 20 years where adopted children died from violence or neglect, charging that U.S. courts are too lenient on their parents. But Russian data show that the abuse rate for orphans in adopted families at home is substantially higher.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the 19 U.S. deaths “are just the tip of the iceberg,” since not all cases are reported.

“On the whole, the situation with adoption in the U.S.A. isn’t one of the best,” the ministry said, noting that many international adoptions there end unsuccessfully. It said Spain and Italy, also substantial adopters of Russian children, reported no abuse of Russian adoptees.

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The ministry also expressed “alarm” about what it called “the general practice of harsh treatment of children” in the U.S., citing among other problems the prevalence of corporal punishment.

Along with the adoption ban, Mr. Putin signed a decree ordering the government to ease the adoption process for Russians and boost benefits for adoptive parents.

But child-welfare specialists said the steps aren’t likely to be enough to make up for the loss of adoptions to the U.S., which was the largest single foreign destination for Russian orphans.

“I understand the president’s desire to improve the situation with adoption in our country,” said Olga Budina, an actress who has run a children’s charity for several years and is a frequent spokesperson on family issues. “Today, the system isn’t ready” to accept the additional children who would have been adopted by U.S. families, she said.

“It clearly will take more than just a year or two,” she said, adding that for some seriously ill orphans, treatment isn’t available in Russia. “For these kids, [adoption by Americans] is their only chance.”

About 120,000 Russian children are listed in the government’s database as candidates for adoption, with only 18,470 Russian families registered as potential adopters. Ms. Budina noted that as adoption has become more popular in Russia in recent years, so have the number of instances where parents returned children because they were unable to cope with.

The decree Mr. Putin signed Friday calls for a roughly 20% increase in the monthly benefit for handicapped children, to about $290. The plan also calls for raising state payments to parents who adopt them, from the current level of about $40 a month. Adoption procedures also are to be streamlined.

The debate over the ban has triggered a surge in interest in Russia’s state media after Ms. Budina, the actress, went on a national talk show this week to expose what she said were horrible conditions at an orphanage in northern Russia.

Prosecutors on Friday opened a criminal case against the officials who ran the orphanage. Ms. Budina said she first began publicizing the problems at the orphanage more than a year ago.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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