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Embassy Row: Lost opportunity

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The U.S. ambassador in Moscow, Michael A. McFaul, warned Tuesday that the ban on Americans adopting Russian children will cripple the Kremlin's ability to track the progress of tens of thousands of youngsters already placed with U.S. families.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill in late December to impose the ban effective Jan. 1, scrapping an earlier adoption agreement with the United States.

Mr. McFaul, taking questions from Russians on his Twitter account, said: "Russia had the opportunity to monitor their fate under the previous agreement, but now, as Russia canceled this agreement, such opportunity is lost."

Americans have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years, but the Kremlin imposed the ban as part of a wider diplomatic dispute with the United States.

The Russian government was outraged after President Obama signed a bill in December applying sanctions on Russian officials suspected of committing human rights abuses.

The Kremlin followed the adoption ban with a bill this month to prevent American officials linked to the U.S. terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from traveling to Russia.

Russian officials claimed they imposed the adoption ban after learning of the deaths of 19 Russian children in U.S. homes since 1999.

Wintour of discontent

The latest twist in the story of Anna Wintour's pursuit of the U.S. ambassadorship to Britain could have been an alternative ending to "The Devil Wears Prada," one wag wrote this week.

Ms. Wintour — the icy editor of Vogue magazine and the inspiration for the fictional character in the novel and movie — is no longer in contention for the exclusive position that comes with a majestic diplomatic residence in a central London park.

Some say Ms. Wintour, a major supporter of President Obama's, pushed too hard for the appointment. Others say she may have rankled someone in the White House after news of her pursuit of the post appeared in London's Guardian newspaper over the summer.

Still others insist the British-born fashion maven has her heart set on a diplomatic appointment as U.S. ambassador to France.

Ms. Wintour's spokesman told the London Telegraph that she is perfectly happy in New York, where she has edited Vogue since 1988.

Fashionista.com noted that Ms. Wintour — who raised more than $500,000 for Mr. Obama's campaign and held a $40,000-a-plate dinner for him in Manhattan with actress "Sex in the City" actress Sarah Jessica Parker — did not even show up in Washington for the president's inauguration Monday.

Ms. Wintour was at a Paris fashion show, along with her guest, Charles H. Rivkin, the current U.S. ambassador to France who is preparing to resign his position. Fashionista Associate Editor Dhani Mau wondered if that was "more than a coincidence."

Yet another gossip columnist insisted that Ms. Wintour never actually wanted a diplomatic position but stoked the rumors to get a better contract with Vogue publisher Conde Nast.

"Still, is it possible that Anna Wintour — Ms. Machiavelli of all things fashion industry — bungled her own chances at the plum position?" asked Kurt Soller at mymag.com.

"Fascinating to think about — even if it sounds like an alternative ending to 'The Devil Wears Prada.'"

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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