Magnitsky row: Putin backs Russian ban on US adoptions

President Vladimir Putin, 20 Dec 12 President Putin said the US should address violations in its own legal system

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, which has been proposed by the Russian parliament.

He said the bill, a response to the US Magnitsky Act which bars entry to Russian alleged human rights violators, was "appropriate".

Russian officials, he said, were not allowed to sit in on US cases involving the mistreatment of Russian children.

In a marathon news conference, Mr Putin also restated his views on Syria.

He also spoke about relations with fellow ex-Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia and sought to dispel speculation about his health.

'Anti-Russian law'

A number of cases where Russian children have died or been mistreated at the hands of US adoptive parents have made headlines in Russia.

Mr Putin said he still needed to read the Russian bill in detail, though he backed it in principle.

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. The number of children adopted by Russian citizens was 7,416.

Americans have adopted around 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years, with 19 recorded deaths among them. Over the same period, 1,500 orphans died in Russian adoptive families, according to the Russian prosecutor-general's office.

"The State Duma's response may be emotional, but I consider it to be appropriate," Mr Putin said, referring to Russia's lower house.

He called the US Magnitsky Act "unfriendly". The act replaced the US Jackson-Vanik amendment, which dated back to the Cold War.

"They have replaced one anti-Soviet, anti-Russian law with another... That is very bad. This, of course, in itself poisons our relations," Mr Putin said.

He said the US had its own human rights abuses to address, pointing to mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

Caution on Syria

Moscow, Mr Putin said, had "practically no interests" in Syria but did not want to see "mistakes" made in Libya repeated. Libya, he said, was "falling apart" as a result.

In 2011 Libyan rebels supported by Western air strikes ousted Col Muammar Gaddafi. The campaign was backed by a UN resolution, but Russia, a longstanding ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, has blocked a similar resolution on Syria.

Vladimir Putin: "Agreements based on a military victory can't be efficient"

Mr Putin said Syrians themselves needed to agree how to live in the future, and a military intervention would be "inappropriate".

Asked about relations with Georgia, Mr Putin said he had seen "positive signals, very restrained so far" from the new coalition government led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, which defeated allies of President Mikheil Saakashvili at elections.

Russia, however, would not revoke its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, Mr Putin said.

Asked to explain a last-minute decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to cancel a trip to Moscow on Tuesday, Mr Putin said there were some economic problems to be resolved such as disagreement over import quotas.

But he denied that at issue was Ukraine's reluctance to join a Moscow-led Customs Union linking Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Mr Putin insisted that Russia's long-term gas contract with Ukraine was not in dispute now but he said Ukraine had made a "strategic mistake" by refusing to lease its gas pipeline network to Gazprom and other European operators.

He pointed out that Russia was now developing gas export infrastructure outside Ukraine: the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic, Blue Stream in the Black Sea and the recent launch of the South Stream undersea pipeline project, which will deliver Russian gas directly to the Balkans.

'Dream on'

Mr Putin, 60, dismissed media reports about the state of his health.

"I can give a traditional answer to the question about my health: dream on," he said.

Last month there were reports that Mr Putin, a keen sportsman, was suffering from a bad back.

He dismissed suggestions he was "authoritarian".

"Had I considered a totalitarian or authoritarian system preferable, I would simply have changed the constitution, it was easy enough to do," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    i think Mr.Putin is exactly doing well as Most of the American used these adopted kids for different purposes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    As the adoptive mother of a Kazak child, I'm saddened by this article. I understand, though, the position of the Russian politicians and people. I cried every time I've read about the horrible things done to adopted children. I just want to say, that they are the exception, not the rule.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    What is best for the children is remaining in their fatherland even if remaining parentless. Whatever the case this legislation that Putin presents is only the facade of a longer list of laws that Putin aims to pass which will draw the line discriminating the US in the same level the US has been discrminating against Russia and Russians so far. And he has every right to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    As for Syria, Russia is worried: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Russia doesn't want opposition in power; opposition is too divided, including terrorist elements. Russia wants Syrians to decide and how they will ensure their safety,their participation in governing the country...
    Russia is afraid of yet another NATO escalation as occurred in Libya, leaving power vacuums and discord.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    As an American, I do believe that more children should be adopted within our own borders. Most international adoptions occur because Americans prefer to adopt babies rather than older children. This is because they are selfish - not because they are racist. Also, LEGAL international adoptions cost 35 to 50 thousand dollars. The occurrence of abuse in LEGAL adoptions is extremely low.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Nobody has said anything about the apalling history of pooor condisions and neglect orphanages in Russia, and many Eastern European countries... They turn into top class institutions all of a sudden, where kids are looked after in clean conditions and shown care and affection? I would fall over if someone could prove that to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Russian wrath over US adoptions, hit boiling in 2010 when an American woman sent back a 7-year-old Russian boy, saying he had behavioural problems & she did not want him anymore.
    Alexei Pushkov, chairman of Duma's Foreign Relations Committee: "Cases of the death of our children in the US continue...we decided to take this tough action to deprive Americans of the right to adopt Russian children.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    This appears to be playing politics with children’s lives. Using children who are already suffering and in pain to make a political point. All the people involved in this should be ashamed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Someone should have asked if backing the despots the Arab Spring is revolting against won't cost Russia its Arab allies in the Mideast in the long run?Isn't Russia losing the war against militant Islam inside its own borders?Hasn't Russia fueled the cause of what may be the most terrible war ever in the Mideast by providing Iran with means to develop nuclear weapons?Isn't Russia on the wrong path?

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    #79 So you think the US should have no control over who does or doesn't enter the US? Does Russia require a visa to visit? Is permission to visit Russia sometimes refused?

    I'd love to here your explanation as to how thats 'different'

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I think it is a right decision. Russia is having a demographic problem so it is sensible to want to keep Russian children in lands. If Americans wish to adopt, they can try keeping to the 100s of orphanages within the USA harboring children in dire need of Parents. We all know that this overseas adoption is a fetish for many and abuse is not far most of the time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    After all Russian orphanages are such humane loving places for kids. Disgusting using the children as a political snub, which will have no meaning to the political powers he is trying to snub...

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    @ 75. Peter_Sym

    No I don't think the length of time was reasonable .... these were friends of mine and I saw the agony they went through :-(
    My point was They were vetted in the same way that they would have been if they were adopting an Irish child. It should not be quicker or easier to adopt a child from overseas as opposed to adopting within your own country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Right retaliatory action by the Russians. US must stop to pass stupid sensless laws to screw other countries to fulfill dictatorial desires. We cannot police the World. We have our own problems to solve within our own backyard. This is the reaction of Washington's dirty politics.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Number of times in the US the adoptive parents of a US born child lose the child back to the birth father because he never signed away his rights. As to foster children US system is set up to get the child back with their birth mother. In the 1980's Boston woman had to sue to allow a foster family to adopt her son after child welfare insisted she take him for weekend & it ended badly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I am extremely intrigued by this Magnitsky affair.

    Personally I think someone very important to the regime in Russia is implicated, either directly or perhaps as a part of plot to destabilise the system and grab power. That is the only logical explanation for the authorities not thoroughly investigating an obvious crime.

    I can't wait til the truth comes out, which may take 30 or so years...

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    #73 and you think a three year wait is reasonable? Effectively a two year old won't get adopted until he's 5. Given that there's no vetting whatsoever on conceiving your own child (no matter how incapable of looking after it you are) its hard to justify this length of delay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Someone should have asked him given that the Russian population is declining by about one million a year what will become of Russia when the last Russian is gone? Does he think US adoption of Russian children is a way the US is trying to accelerate the process?


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