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 273.

    @262 FatPeace. Amen, brother (or sister, as the case may be).

    I've heard the one about overweight people too. The system is soooo messed up. Yet these same people (fat, private school, wrong-paper-readers, wrong-part-of-town-livers, smokers, drinkers, etc.) can - if they are physically able - have children naturally.

    But they can't adopt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    Putin knows he is wrong, I think. If he wanted to make a valid point, what he should have done was exactly what the USA did, deny entry to human rights violators. Instead, he wanted to hurt orphans and innocent americans who would like to adopt. Considering the rates of deaths of Russian adopted children are much much higher than those adopted by americans, this makes no sense at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    Erm, am I reading this right? The US law prevents Russian citizens accused of human rights abuses entering Russia - a law that is preventing social workers for doing follow up visits? Does that mean then that Russia employs social workers who are guilty of human rights abuses? Because if that is the case, Putin is getting his knickers in a twist about the wrong problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    269. sieuarlu "If you're snowed in for a Russin winter and nothing to do a 1000 page book might seem attractive."

    You would need to be a very slow reader or for it to be a very short winter.
    I take it that a book that long is too much for your attention span. Oh well, Blyton's efforts are much shorter so perhaps try those.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    255"You are obviously totally ignorant of Russian art and literature to make such a silly comment."

    You mean those icons and those books that were over a thousand pages long from centuries ago? Or are you referring to "Soviet Realism" which was an artistic obscenity?If you're snowed in for a Russin winter and nothing to do a 1000 page book might seem attractive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Boys toys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    This article covers a lot of ground but skates far too briefly over Putin's remarks about Syria that are better reported in the New York Times. This is a sad omission considering how important it is to know the views of Russia on this dreadful conflict. The BBC could do better and you know you can.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    Reading between the lines, a child adopted within Russia is far more likely to be killed than a child adopted by foreign parents. Surely therefore it is the process of vetting parents (regardless of nationality) which needs to be changed. More knee jerk legislation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    @247 There is no need as we all know the US isn't perfect either - I bet black sportsmen don't fear for their safety anywhere near as much as they would in Russia though for example

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    "Had I considered a totalitarian or authoritarian system preferable, I would simply have changed the constitution, it was easy enough to do" - Oh Vlad, how little that rings true: it's easier to run a "democracy" where the freedoms of the people are slowly taken away, the press silenced for fear of your retribution, than to plunge back into explicit authoritarianism. Boiling water and frogs, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    @giovanna(244). Well said and quite true. Thank you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    168 "refused adoption on grounds that he teaches in a (gasp!) private school"
    Actually that's one of the less looney ones I've heard. Fat people apparently 'set a bad example' (worse even than some of the worst council homes? Unlikely.) and face a blanket ban. Then there's all those who are the wrong religion, wrong race, live in the wrong area, read the wrong paper. Fix our BROKEN system first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    You want to adopt children as young as possible to help with attachment issues and the process for kids to go through before being approved is lengthy. This means that people go abroad to get babies, rather than 4 or 5.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    254. James "In the US it is extremely difficult to adopt"

    It certainly should be difficult - there are a number of barriers that must be overcome.

    "Maybe if it was [sic] easier more children would have homes"

    Then campaign for that instead of diving around the rules and buying from abroad.
    My best wishes to your wife's cousin and her family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    To me, the vast majority of these comments highlight the problems facing adoption: lots of speculations based on prejudice, little factual evidence, gross over-generalizations, and a lack of desire to become educated on the subject. Meanwhile, the children languish in our ignorance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.


  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election on June 2, 2000 when America saw the horror on TV of an American soldier in full battle gear in an American home to take Elian Gonzalez by force from his uncle to return him to the hell of Cuba.Gore's failure to act to reverse Attorney General Janet Reno's blunder where Clinton tried to placate Castro turned out to be politically fatal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Russia is not 3-d world country and it must react on the way how the USA acts. One anti-Russian law was substituted by another. Killing or beating tens children adopted from Russia, letting the murders go without adequate punishment and not even letting Russian observers on the courts. If in the USA think that they can do whatever they want just because they are America - they are wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Russia always was and remains a relatively primitive nation.
    Huh? You are obviously totally ignorant of Russian art and literature to make such a silly comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    My Wife's cousin adopted from Russia and they are all very happy. In the US it is extremely difficult to adopt. Maybe if it was easier more children would have homes. Children from all over the World deserve a chance.


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