On Friday, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, signed a new law that bans American citizens from adoption Russian children. The new law ends the prospects of over 50 children who were preparing to join new families.
Putin signing the new law is in retaliation to a United States law that targets Russians who are human rights violators. Many top officials in Russia opposed the bill, including the foreign prime minister, but Putin still signed it in less than 24 hours after he received it from Parliament. The bill passed both houses in overwhelming fashion in Parliament.
The law signed by Putin will also closure non-governmental organizations that receive American funding if the activities are deemed political. The Kremlin said that the law goes into effect on January 1. Pavel Astakhov, the children’s rights ombudsman, said that 52 kids who were scheduled to be adopted in the United States will stay in Russia.
The law signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month came from the case of Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky is a Russian lawyer who was arrested after he accused officials of tax fraud costing $230 million. Magnitsky was denied medical treatment and passed away in jail in 2009. According to Russian rights groups, Magnitsky was beaten severely in jail.
Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that the Russia should “allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parents to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families.”
The law will be challenged in Constitutional Court by the head of the Russian Human Rights Commission, Vladimir Lukin. Lukin is also the former ambassador to Washington. According to UNICEF, there are roughly 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia with 18,000 Russians on a waiting list to adopt a child. Over the previous 20 years, over 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans.
When Putin signed the law banning adoptions to Americans, he also issued an order for the Russian government to create a program that would offer more support for adopted children.
Lev Ponomarev, a human rights activist in Russia, said, “The moral responsibility lies on them. But I don’t think that even one child will be taken to be brought up by deputies of the Duma.”
For years, Russians have worried that their children are suffering abuse or dying at the hands of their American adoptive parents. The new law is called the “Dima Yakolev Bill” and is named after a toddler who passed away back in 2008.