As of 2007, statistics indicate that more than 730,000 children living in Russia are parentless, yet adoptions in the country have typically been wrought in corruption and red tape, leaving helpless orphans in a perpetual state of limbo and without a real home to call their own.
Making matters worse, members of Russia's ruling party are now threatening to cut off adoptions to the U.S. outright as retaliation for the Magnitsky Act -- a series of human rights sanctions -- President Obama signed into law Friday.
The bill denies visas and freezes U.S. bank accounts and financial assets of suspected Russian human rights violators. The act is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was imprisoned, abused and later died in 2009 for exposing corrupt government officials who he claimed stole $250 million in tax dollars.
On Monday, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Neverov, told the Russian news site RIA Novosti that he and his fellow lawmakers are prepared to introduce an amendment to current legislation that would ban all adoptions by U.S. citizens.
“I think it will be approved,” he added.
Rio Novosti adds:
Until now, Russian officials suggested their response would slap reciprocal sanctions on US officials but on Friday they suggested broadening the list to include American parents accused of abusing adopted Russian children as well as judges that gave them lenient punishments. [...]
Adoptions to the United States have been a hot topic in Russia in recent years, sparked by high-profile cases of abused Russian adoptees. Adoptions nearly ground to a halt in 2010 after a Tennessee woman put her 7-year old adopted Russian son, Artyom, on a plane back to Russia alone with little more than a note saying she did not want him anymore.
His is among the nearly two dozen cases cited by Russian media of adopted children who allegedly suffered at the hands of adopted American parents. Russia is one of the most popular places in the world for Americans wanting to adopt. Tens of thousands of Russian children have been adopted by American parents since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Using orphaned children as pawns in what the Novosti calls the latest "wave of anti-Americanism," is not likely to engender sympathy from those who champion human rights and only underscores the ever-growing sentiment that Vladimir Putin's government is as corrupt as the Russia of old.
In an attempt to assuage criticism, Russian lawmakers who advocated for the U.S. adoption-ban alleged that they will compensate homeless children by increasing funding for the country's "inadequate orphanages."