Putin to support ban on US adoption of Russian orphans
Vladimir Putin will support plans to stop American families from adopting Russian orphans, in retaliation against an “unfriendly” human rights law passed in the US.
The Russian president said a vote for the ban in the Russian parliament on Wednesday was an “emotional” response, but an “appropriate” one.
The Duma’s hasty move to stop Americans adopting Russian children is a tit-for-tat reply to a US law that bans Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses from travelling to the United States.
The US Congress passed the Magnitsky Act on December 6th. The American law was named after Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail in 2009 after discovering what he said was a massive tax fraud perpetrated by state officials.
Speaking to journalists in Moscow yesterday, Mr Putin became animated when he described the Magnitsky law as “an anti-Russian act” that he could not turn the other cheek to.
“I am probably a bad Christian . . . if they have slapped us, we need to answer.”
Reducing foreign adoptions has been one of Mr Putin’s persistent welfare themes and plays well to a nationalist audience. “We need to bring up our children ourselves,” he said yesterday.
He also upbraided western powers for the “mistake” of intervention in Libya and said this should not be repeated in Syria. However, he added that Russia was “not concerned” about the fate of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian president was speaking at a marathon press conference, which clocked in at four hours and 32 minutes, where he expounded on everything from pork production to the charms of national costume and the end of the world – not for at least 4½ billion years in Mr Putin’s estimation.
Mr Putin defended his record in power since 2000 and said he had made “no major, systematic mistakes”.
Batting away a question that Russia was in stagnation, Mr Putin praised China’s stability, saying that investors were not afraid to put their money there. “Order and discipline are not in contradiction with democracy,” he said.
He also dismissed questions about his own health, a subject of increasing speculation after several foreign trips were cancelled in the autumn.
But the adoption issue attracted the most interest. A journalist from Novaya Gazeta, an opposition newspaper, challenged Mr Putin’s claim that the population supported the ban and said her paper has collected more than 100,000 signatures against it in two days.
Opponents have accused the authorities of using vulnerable children as political pawns.
“For disabled children, being adopted by Americans is their only chance, because in Russia services are not well organised,” said Nastiya, a protester who took part in a picket at the Duma on Wednesday.
Slightly fewer than 1,000 Russian children were adopted by Americans in 2011, down from nearly 6,000 in 2005.