WASHINGTON, December 28 (RIA Novosti) – Hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial law banning the adoption of Russian children by American families, the US State Department on Friday called the measure “politically motivated.”
“We deeply regret Russia’s passage of a law ending inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia,” said State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell in a statement 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 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.
“We are further concerned about statements that adoptions already underway may be stopped and hope that the Russian government would allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parents to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families,” said Ventrell.