Russians historically have been less enthusiastic about adopting children than most Western cultures. Putin, along with signing the adoption ban, on Friday issued an order for the government to develop a program to provide more support for adopted children.
Lev Ponomarev, one of Russia’s most prominent human rights activists, hinted at that reluctance when he said Parliament members who voted for the bill should take custody of the children who were about to be adopted.
“The moral responsibility lies on them,” he told Interfax. “But I don’t think that even one child will be taken to be brought up by deputies of the Duma.”
Many Russians have been distressed for years by reports of Russian children dying or suffering abuse at the hands of their American adoptive parents. The new Russian law was dubbed the “Dima Yakovlev Bill” after a toddler who died in 2008 when his American adoptive father left him in a car in broiling heat for hours.
In that case, the father was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and Russia has complained of acquittals or light sentences in other such cases.
The Investigative Committee, Russia’s top investigative body, on Friday complained that its attempts to have the acquittals overturned or reconsidered had been ignored by the United States. Under U.S. law, acquittals are final except in rare cases.
Russians also bristled at how the widespread adoptions appeared to show them as hardhearted or too poor to take care of orphans. Astakhov, the children’s ombudsman, charged that well-heeled Americans often got priority over Russians who wanted to adopt.
A few lawmakers even claimed that some Russian children were adopted by Americans only to be used for organ transplants or become sex toys or cannon fodder for the U.S. Army. A spokesman for Russia’s dominant Orthodox Church said that children adopted by foreigners and raised outside the church will not enter God’s kingdom.
• Mansur Mirovalev and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this story.
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