What's behind Russia's bill banning US adoptions?
The bill had originally been a smaller, tit-for-tat response to US legislation, but the Russian Duma has expanded it into a much broader anti-American measure that even Putin may not approve.
A Russian bill that had seemed initially like a tit-for-tat response to US legislation now looks to be exploding into broad legislation that bars almost any US citizen from engaging in nonbusiness activity in Russia – including the adoption of Russian children.Skip to next paragraph
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Russia's State Duma on Wednesday passed a bill, in key second reading, that would ban all adoptions of Russian children by US citizens, order the closure of any politically active nongovernmental organization with US funding, and block US passport holders from working in any nonprofit group that authorities deem connected with politics. The bill passed the 450-seat Duma overwhelmingly, with just 15 deputies opposed.
The now radically amended Dima Yakovlev bill, named after one of 19 Russian children who have died because of alleged negligence by American adoptive parents in the past two decades, goes far beyond the originally stated intent to respond to the US Senate's Magnitsky Act, signed into law by President Obama last week.
The initial bill, which passed first reading last Friday, would have levied economic and visa sanctions against US officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses against Russians. Among the categories of Americans to be affected in the original bill were adoptive parents who abused their Russian-born children and officials involved in the extradition and prosecution of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a New York court last year.
Experts say that might have been a straightforward symmetrical response to the Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other alleged individual human rights abusers.
But with the amendments loaded on this week, the bill that Duma deputies seem set to pass on third reading Friday – a prerequisite for it reaching the desk of President Vladimir Putin – casts a far wider net.
The Kremlin has not so far commented. But the proposed adoption ban has met with unexpected pushback from some Russian government departments. One of those is the Foreign Ministry, which has spent years negotiating a bilateral US-Russia adoption agreement that finally came into force last month.
The adoption ban "is not right, and I am sure that the State Duma will make the right decision in the end," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the official ITAR-Tass agency before the Duma voted. "International adoption as an institution has a full right to exist."