Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he intends to sign into law a bill that bans Americans from adopting Russian children.
Speaking at a televised government meeting in Moscow, Putin said that he will “weigh everything” in the bill but that he still does not see any reason why he should not sign it.
The controversial measure was approved by the Russian parliament on Wednesday.
It is part of a larger bill that is viewed as retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, a law President Obama signed Dec. 14 that calls for sanctions on Russians who violate human rights.
The State Department has harshly criticized the legislation, writing “the welfare of children is simply too important to tie to the political aspects” of U.S.-Russian relations and it is “misguided to link the fate of children to unrelated political considerations.”
The bill is the latest in a series of disputes over American adoptions. Many Russians have been outraged by reports of Russian adoptees being hurt or killed in the U.S. In fact, the measure was named in honor of a Russian toddler who died in 2008 after his adoptive U.S. father left him in a car in boiling heat for hours.
But Adam Pertman, the executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, says the legislation is simply an attempt to use children as pawns in foreign policy negotiations.
According to USA Today, 19 children have died at the hands of their American parents – “a tiny fraction of the 60,000 Russian orphans adopted since 1992.”
The head of a child advocacy group in Russia also opposed the ban, describing the plight of many Russian children who are growing up in overcrowded orphanages.
“In Russia, we have 100, 200, 400 kids [grouped together in orphanages]. It is so harmful for the development of the child,” Boris Altshuler told reporters.
Do you know anyone who adopted a child from overseas?