Russia May Allow U.S. Adoptions Put in Doubt by New Law

The U.S. is “very hopeful” that Russia will allow Americans to complete pending adoptions jeopardized by a new Russian ban, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today that a U.S.-Russia adoption agreement remains in effect until January 2014 because of a provision setting a one-year termination delay, according to the Russian state news service RIA Novosti.

“The agreement is in force at the moment,” Peskov told RIA Novosti. “It will be in force over the course of the year.”

The RIA Novosti report said it “was not immediately clear” whether his statement means that adoptions under way will be allowed to be completed.

The U.S. will seek clarification from the Russian government and press for pending adoptions to proceed on humanitarian grounds, Nuland said.

Nuland said yesterday that 500 to 1,000 U.S. families are in various stages in the process of adopting Russian children. The RIA Novosti report used a figure of 46 pending adoptions.

“We are very hopeful that we will be able to complete the cases of adoption that had been begun before the law was passed, so that’s something that we will be working on with the Russian government,” Nuland told reporters in Washington.

Russia’s parliament passed legislation last month barring U.S. adoptions of Russian children in retaliation for American sanctions over the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who’d sought to expose alleged corruption among Interior Ministry officers. The adoption ban was signed into law by Putin on Dec. 28.

Protest Planned

Peskov said the terms of the bilateral adoption accord state that it remains in force for a year after one party states its desire to withdraw from the accord.

Russian opposition activists plan a march in downtown Moscow on Jan. 13 to protest the adoption ban. City Hall gave permission for the event, one of the organizers, Pyotr Tsarkov, said on his Twitter Inc. account yesterday. More than 3,000 people have said they may attend the march, according to its Facebook page.

Russia’s move to prohibit Americans from adopting Russian children is the latest threat to the Obama administration’s flagging attempt to “reset” relations between the two Cold War rivals.