Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Russian parliament gives approval to US adoption ban


Russia’s lower house of parliament has given final approval to a contentious bill that retaliates against a new US human rights measure by barring Americans from adopting the country’s children.

Washington swiftly slammed the move, saying Russian children would be harmed by the measure.

The State Duma passed the bill without debate in a quick 420-7 vote on Friday, while protesters picketed the building, demanding that the measure be voted down.

However, the vote took place in a largely ceremonial third and final reading of the legislation, and its outcome was never in doubt.

“We regret the results of today’s Duma vote,” US Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michal McFaul tweeted shortly after the decision.

He told the Interfax news agency separately that the US was “extremely concerned” by the law’s provisions.

The Kremlin-dominated upper house is now expected to approve the ban on Wednesday before passing it on to Russian President Vladimir Putin for his signature.

The Russian leader has indicated he is ready to put his name on the measure so that it could enter law on Jan. 1.

The measure, which underscores the severity of the recent strain in Russia-US ties, would end about 1,000 adoptions a year.

Caregivers in particular fear that the new rules are to hit the most disadvantaged children, because foreign adoptive parents are often ready to adopt kids rejected by Russian families.

Acting US Department of State spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the bill would ultimately have the effect of keeping Russian children from growing up in loving households in the US.

“What this would do is prevent children from growing up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding,” he said. “And so that’s the basic premise of our bilateral adoption agreement. It’s something we’ve worked for many months with the Russians on. And so really it’s Russian children who would be harmed by this measure.”

The affair has also highlighted Cabinet splits between those who subscribe to strong anti-US rhetoric and those who prefer to cast Moscow as a more reasoned partner.

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