Magnitsky row: Russian MPs back US adoption ban

A Russian protester against a ban on US adoption is detained by police in Moscow
Image caption Police detained protesters with banners saying: Are orphans guilty of Magnitsky's death?

Russian MPs have overwhelmingly backed a bill that would ban US citizens from adopting Russian children.

The move is in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, passed in the US this month, introducing sanctions on Russian alleged human rights violators.

It follows several cases in which Russian children have apparently been mistreated by US adoptive parents.

But senior figures in the government of President Vladimir Putin have chided Russian MPs for going too far.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised the move, and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov said it could result in Russian children being left with no hope of adoption.

The rate of adoption in Russia is low. Some 3,400 Russian children were adopted by foreign families in 2011, nearly a third of them by Americans.

NGOs targeted

Mr Putin's spokesman also seemed to be distancing himself from the bill, saying MPs had been "emotional" and the Kremlin position was more "restrained".

The move was also condemned by human rights groups, and police detained 30 protesters for holding an unauthorised demonstration against the measure outside the Duma.

The bill, which is set to face a final vote in the lower house on Friday, overrides a deal on adoption signed between Russia and the US in July.

MPs also backed another clause that would bar Russian non-profit groups from receiving funds from the United States, and another which bans people with dual US and Russian citizenship from heading non-governmental organisations. This has been seen as a measure targeted directly at veteran dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

The bill also bars Americans guilty of human rights violations from entering Russia, and allows for any assets they hold in Russia to be frozen.

The measures are direct retaliation for similar provisions in the Magnitsky Act, recently passed by the US Congress.

The act is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer whose death in Russian custody has become a cause celebre.

More on this story