President Vladimir Putin said he intends to sign into a law a bill banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children, even as he plans to scrutinize the final draft of the legislation after it was approved by parliament.
Speaking at a government meeting in Moscow today, Putin said he will “weigh everything” in the bill before making a final decision, though he “intends” to sign it into law. The Russian leader also said he’ll sign a presidential decree to allocate additional resources for Russian orphans, especially those battling health problems.
Lawmakers in the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, voted 143 to zero yesterday in favor of the measure, which was passed by the lower chamber last week. Putin has two weeks to decide whether to endorse it, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was cited as saying by Interfax.
The adoption ban was crafted in retaliation for a bill approved by U.S. lawmakers this month imposing visa restrictions and an asset freeze on Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other human-rights abuses.
The U.S. has “deep concerns” about the measure, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said today in an e-mailed statement.
“Since 1992, American families have welcomed more than 60,000 Russian children into their homes, and it is misguided to link the fate of children to unrelated political considerations,” he said. “The welfare of children is simply too important to tie to the political aspects of our relationship.”
Putin today blamed U.S. authorities for denying access to adopted children for Russian representatives, acting in a “provocatively arrogant” manner and making decisions seen as “legally unfounded” by Russia.
Putin applauded the adoption ban at his annual press conference last week, noting that it couldn’t take effect immediately because a treaty between Russia and the U.S. regulating the process requires a year’s notice to withdraw.
Russia may completely abandon the practice of foreign adoptions after the government approves federal programs to support orphans, Interfax reported today, citing Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights.
In Washington, Ventrell said the U.S. is also “deeply troubled” by elements of the bill “that would restrict the ability of Russian civil society organizations to work with American partners.”
“The decades of cooperation between Russian and American NGOs have been beneficial to both our countries and our citizens,” he said in the statement. “We have also been clear that our interaction with Russian civil society has always been non-partisan and transparent.”
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