The New York Times reports that the Russian Parliament voted overwhelmingly today in favor of banning any all adoptions by Americans. The move is said to be in retaliation for legislation signed by President Obama last week.
The “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act,” signed by Obama on December 14, imposes sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations. The law is the namesake of Sergei Magnitsky who exposed Russian officials accused of stealing over $250 million of tax funds.
Magnitsky, an anti-corruption attorney from Russia, died while incarcerated in 2009 after being denied medical attention. The new law requires administration to create a list of Russian citizens guilty of human rights violations. Included are those involved in the detention, abuse, and eventual death of Sergei Magnitsky. Those listed will be banned from traveling to or holding assets in The United States.
Southern California Public Radio quotes, Charles Kupchan, Council on Foreign Relations, explaining Russian reaction to the law:
“That has really upset the Russians, and in retaliation they’re saying they’re going to suspend the regime of adoptions because they think certain human rights violations are occurring on this site. They also point to Guantanamo and the treatment of prisoners during the so-called ‘War On Terror’ to say ‘Don’t lecture us about human rights, look what’s happening in your own country.'”
Russian officials maintain that there is solid reason for the ban, and it is not about retaliation. Proponents of the ban assert that there have been too many cases of abuse involving the adopted children, many of which go unpunished. They cite leniency in the American judicial system.
Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Duma’s foreign relations committee, was quoted by The Associated Press:
“Cases of the death of our children in the United States continue, and cases of not-guilty verdicts; we decided to take this tough decision to deprive Americans of the right to adopt Russian children.”
The final decision for Russia to ban all adoptions by Americans now rests in the hands of President Vladimir Putin, who has not voiced a solid opinion on the matter.