MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – A deputy from Russia’s ruling United Russia party, Robert Shlegel, has submitted an amendment to a controversial law banning adoption of Russian children by American families to try to make exceptions for disabled children, Shlegel wrote on his Twitter microblog on Friday.
Shlegel said he decided to submit the amendment because a total adoption ban would mean some disabled children might be unable to find their family.
Hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the adoption ban law on Friday, the US State Department called the measure “politically motivated.”
“We deeply regret Russia’s passage of a law ending inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said on Friday. “The Russian government’s politically motivated decision will reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care.”
The adoption ban is part of Russia’s response to the US Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama earlier this month. The Russian public has been largely supportive of the bill, with 56 percent of respondents in an opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) saying they backed a ban on US nationals adopting Russian children.
The Magnitsky Act calls for US travel and financial sanctions against Russian citizens deemed by the American government to have violated human rights. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in 2009 after accusing officials of being involved in a multi-million dollar tax fraud scheme.
Critics of the adoption ban said it would keep tens of thousands of children, especially those with disabilities, in Russia’s orphanage system. Figures from the US State Department show more than 60,000 Russian children adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including 962 last year.
Russian officials blame US adoptive parents for the deaths of at least 19 of those children. The adoption ban is named for Dima Yakovlev (Chase Harrison), a Russian toddler who died of heatstroke in 2008 after his American adoptive father left him in an overheated car for hours.
The ban goes into effect on January 1, halting the adoption of 46 Russian children by US families whose cases are currently being processed.
A number of Russian ministers, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have criticized the bill, which was approved by the State Duma – the lower house of parliament – on December 21 and by the Federation Council – the upper house – on Wednesday.
While the adoption ban is the most controversial aspect of the proposed legislation, the bill puts forward other retaliatory measures as well, such as banning alleged US abusers of Russian citizens’ rights from entering Russia and freezing any assets they may have there.