Europe

Russian MPs back ban on US adoptions of Russian orphans

Russian Duma, 14 Sept 2012
Image caption Supporters of President Putin dominate the Russian Duma

Russian MPs have approved a ban on Americans adopting Russian children.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the bill into law. He voiced support for it on Thursday.

The bill also proposes to ban US-funded non-governmental organisations that do any political work in Russia.

It is a response to the US Magnitsky Act, which blacklists Russian alleged human rights violators. Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer, died in a Russian jail in 2009.

Mr Putin called the measure an "unfriendly act", saying Washington should instead address human rights violations in US prisons.

Under the act, the US will withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian officials thought to have been involved with human rights violations.

The Duma voted overwhelmingly in favour of the bill on Friday. To become law it also requires approval from the Russian upper house, the Federation Council, and Mr Putin's signature.

The US condemned the passing of the bill. Russian children would be harmed by the measure, US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

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.

There have been high-profile reports in Russia about some adopted children who were mistreated by their new American parents.

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