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 173.

    I am American.My best friend was adopted from Russia when she was 3.(1 of my many friends adobted from another country)She remembers the orphanage vividly & lives a very priviledged upper middle class life.She loves her parents.It is very sad that Russia is playing politics with children's lives over a few isolated incidents.No matter the country every child should have a place they can call home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    @ 168 "A UK friend and his wife were nearly refused adoption on grounds that he teaches in a (gasp!) private school. The kid would get 'an unfair advantage in life'..."

    But... Isn't that the whole point in adopting? To give advantage to the adoptee by bringing them up in a more stable, supportive environment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    @82 valid points. why the interest when so many american children are waiting to be adopted...

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    They should do this in China too. American and European couples almost always want to adopt female girls, further exacerbating the male-female gender crisis there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    "Russian officials, he said, were not allowed to sit in on US cases involving the mistreatment of Russian children."
    If this is true, then a ban on US adoption is appropriate. He has a responsibility to monitor the care of Russian children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    So the premise is that US people go to the trouble of adopting a child from Russia so that they can then abuse / murder them? Ergo, ban adoption from Russia.

    People often adopt from overseas because local adoption is difficult. A UK friend and his wife were nearly refused adoption on grounds that he teaches in a (gasp!) private school. The kid would get 'an unfair advantage in life'...

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    165. beton

    couldn't have put it better myself!

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    How many homeless children does America have, 1.3 million. How about helping them out.
    Remember that documentry of elementry school kids who were interviewed, the one little girl who said her mother had eaten rats so she could have food. What about all those families that are living in tents in the woods, those kids need help too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Putin did the right thing, the U.S. launch wars and killing people all over the world. Torture people in secret prisons and even dictate the terms of Russia. Even the USSR never unleashed so many wars. U.S. now has in place the Soviet Union - The Evil Empire. Democracy instead of communism - a fanatical idea for which you can kill with impunity the country and millions of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    So, wait, is Putin under the impression that parents who aren't from the US never abuse children? Or that Russian parents would never abuse their adopted child? Wow, is he going to be disappointed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    OK so Americans cannot adopt Russian children. There are plenty of children all around the world who regretably need new homes. Russian may one day have to answer to those children denied an adoption, but that's no different from any other country.

  • Comment number 162.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Aren't there enough parentless children in the US to satisfy the adoption demand? Yes there are but to some people adopting a child from abroad is like buying an exotic animal pet or they think they are on a self-asigned altruistic mission. Frankly I find myself agreeing with Putin. Who is the US to order other countries around? The world has had enough Yankee-made wars and their orphans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    "The Plight of Russia's Orphanages" is an old article, 2000, but talks to many of the same issues regarding Russian adoption problems that we continue to see today. Russia is still the same old worn out 1918 pot calling the kettle black. The Human Rights Watch section is illuminating.
    Have things for Russian orphans improved? I doubt it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    "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 don't have orphanages in the US. We have foster care. It is very difficult to adopt American children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    The freezing of American assets in Russia is pointless since no one in their right minds would do want to do buisness in Russia after what happened to Magnitsky.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    155, What makes you think they will have a better life outside Russia

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    There's no country in the world where children are never abused, killed.This is cynically intended to provoke others to emotional reactions to boost Putin's popularity.The neglect of all of these children in Russia is no less violent and abusive than what might happen to some of them if they are adopted.Many of them have serious mental or physical disorders that aren't disclosed before adoption.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    This is an absolutely disgraceful use of children as political tools without any real regard for their welfare. This can only result in kids being kept is poverty and them never having the chance of a better life outside of Russia. Astonishing!

  • Comment number 154.

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


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