Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. appealed to Russia not to ban adoptions of Russian orphans in America after President Vladimir Putin backed the measure as retaliation against human-rights sanctions imposed by Congress.
Russia’s lower house of parliament today approved the ban by 420 to 7, with one abstention, in the third and final reading. At his annual news conference yesterday, Putin said the step, proposed by lawmakers, was “emotional but appropriate.” The law will now go to the upper house and to Putin for signature.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said his country was “very concerned” about the initiative, according to a statement posted today on the embassy’s website. It will “link the fate of orphaned children to unrelated political issues and needlessly remove the path to families for hundreds of Russian children each year,” he said.
Ties with the U.S. have deteriorated after Congress passed a bill this month that imposes a visa ban and asset freeze on Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other human-rights abuses. Tensions are growing after Putin, who faced unprecedented protests over the past year, criticized U.S. efforts to promote democracy in his country and oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Putin said yesterday that the ban on adoptions couldn’t take effect immediately because a treaty between Russia and the U.S. regulating the process requires a year’s notice to withdraw.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday in an interview posted on the ministry’s website that he didn’t support an end to U.S. adoptions of Russian children because this would remove Russia’s right to monitor the treatment of its citizens who have been placed in American families.
The Foreign Ministry sought in 2010 to freeze adoptions by U.S. citizens after an American woman returned her adopted Russian son unaccompanied to Moscow and reports of 17 deaths and cases of abuse triggered calls for a ban.
The two countries then signed a treaty tightening oversight of adoptions that came into effect last month.
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