December 26, 2012 (TSR) – The Russian Federation Council approved on Wednesday a law prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by Americans. The bill was previously supported by Russia’s State Duma in response to the Magnitsky Act.
All 143 Federation Council members voted for the law, an Interfax correspondent reports.
The bill, dubbed the Dima Yakovlev Law, bars Americans involved in violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms from visiting Russia. Their financial and other assets shall be impounded, and they shall be prohibited from concluding property and investment deals in Russia.
The law also imposes a visa ban and asset freeze on US officials who violate the rights of Russian citizens abroad, and bans the US sponsorship of NGOs that operate and engaged in political activity in Russia, which receive donations and property from U.S. citizens or organizations, as well as the work of US citizens in Russian NGOs.
As the bill was passing through the Lower House, it was also amended with a provision that it can be applied to any nation that violates the rights of Russians, not just the USA.
Russia prepared the Dima Yakovlev bill as retaliation against the so-called US Magnitsky Act, named in honor of a whistle-blowing lawyer who died in jail before going on trial.
In addition, the Russian Federation Council adopted a resolution, “On Measures to Upgrade the Mechanism of Child Adoption by Russian Citizens.”
“Excessive bureaucratization of the adoption procedure, uncoordinated actions by agencies supervising support to families with children, a deficit of funds for high-tech medical assistance to children, and insufficient promotion of adoption are impeding adoption of Russian children by Russian citizens,” the resolution said.
“The attitude toward the protection of parenthood and childhood has to change drastically on every level,” it said.
It was the adoptions ban that has caused most protest and controversy from officials, media and public. Critics claim the ban is targeting innocent people and that it will harm Russian orphans by depriving them of a chance to find new families. Advocates of the ban replied that it was targeting not the would be adoptive parents and children, but the US legal system that had been treating cases of cruel treatment and even manslaughter of Russian children in US families with inadmissible leniency.
Putin, however, has pledged fully support for the ban, calling the US attitude to Russian claims a ‘humiliation’ and calling for a state program that would boost domestic adoptions as well as a response to the U.S. failure to punish individuals who commit crimes against adopted Russian children, President Vladimir Putin told a grand press conference last week.
“The State Duma has offered a reaction to the position of the U.S. authorities: The U.S. judiciary regularly does not react to crimes against adopted Russian children and exempts the persons who commit such crimes from punishment,” Putin said in commenting on the State Duma’s approval of the anti-Magnitsky bill in the second reading.
The Prime Minister and leader of parliamentary majority Dmitry Medvedev has also supported the ban and said that internal adoptions should be made a priority.
In the first move to implement this plan, the Lower House work group on improving the life on orphans suggested revenues from the luxury tax due to be imposed in the first half of 2013 could be used for this purpose.