Medvedev Wants Commission to Help Russians Adopt Orphans

MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) – As Russia tries to boost the number of domestic adoptions, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday suggested creating a special commission, headed by a deputy prime minister, to deal with orphanhood issues.

“We can try to establish a separate structure, neither a ministry nor a department, but a commission that would consider the problems that have accumulated. Such a commission should be headed by a deputy prime minister, then it can work,” Medvedev said during a meeting with the Krasnoyarsk branch of the ruling United Russia party. He didn’t elaborate on who might head this commission.

On Thursday Medvedev also signed a decree that is expected to encourage Russians to adopt children, the government’s official website reported.

The decree slices the number of documents Russians have to collect when applying to become foster parents and tasks state services with promoting adoption online and in the mass media.

Russian officials have been working on new legislation to grow the number of domestic adoptions ever since Moscow banned US citizens from adopting Russian children on January 1. This step was taken in response to the so-called US Magnitsky Act, signed by the White House, which freezes the assets and visas of Russians accused of violating human rights.

Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, an outspoken opponent of foreign adoptions, said that so far Russia cannot ban adoptions by all foreign citizens.

“Unfortunately, it is not the best time for our society. It is not ready to ban all foreign adoptions,” Astakhov said on Thursday. “Any country that respects itself must not sell children abroad,” he added.

Foreigners adopted 3,400 Russian children by the end of 2011 – the latest official data available.

Some 130,000 orphans have been deemed eligible for adoption or foster care in Russia. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including 962 last year, US State Department figures show.

Russian officials said the adoption ban was justified because at least 19 adopted Russian children died in the custody of their US parents last year. According to Astakhov, 14 adopted children died in Russian adoptive families over the same period.


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