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The Buzz Barometer: "The losers are the children"
December 22, 2012 23:41

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In an angry and emotional response to the US Magnitsky Act, they slapped a ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens. And with Levada Center polls showing some 40 percent of the population actually endorse a black list for corrupt Russian officials, there appears to be meager support for the cruel bill adopted by the State Duma in third reading and waiting to be inked by the president.

It also propelled Russia to the frontlines of the international press, with different perspectives voiced by a broad panel of experts.

CNN quotes John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program director, as saying that the bill is a “childish response to the Magnitsky Act”. In his interview, he also pointed out that the parliament should think of who “it can strengthen Russian civil society and not weaken it."


Another US-based media, Business Insider, reflects on the broad scope of the law which it says is bringing “wider worries that the "Cold War" is alive and well”.


The BBC brings the bill into context, with stats on adoptions. According to the British national broadcaster, some 3,400 Russian children were adopted by foreign families in 2011, nearly a third of them by Americans, while the number of children adopted by Russian citizens was 7,416.

Over the past 20 years, however, Americans have adopted around 60,000 Russian children.

The BBC contrasts 19 recorded deaths among Russia’s young citizens with 1,500 orphans who died in Russian adoptive families, according to the Russian prosecutor-general's office.

The Los Angeles Times quotes Boris Altshuler, a Public Chamber member and head of Right of the Child, a Moscow-based advocacy group, who says that nearly 300,000 Russian children are in orphanages, about two-thirds of whom have parents who can't or won't support them.

MP Ilya Ponomaryov, also cited by the LA Times, said there are 1,500 Russian children, including 49 with serious disabilities, whose adoptions by U.S. parents are awaiting approval in Russian courts, and the parliament’s bill could be a life-long verdict for them.

The Wall Street Journal points out that two of the cabinet ministers dared to speak out against the bill, with Education Minister Dmitry Livanov warning MPs via his twitter account that “it's our children that could suffer, the ones who can't find adoptive parents in Russia." Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called on the parliament to think twice before ruining bilateral cooperation on US adoptions that started after a new agreement took effect in November.

The Beaumont Enterprise, headquartered in Texas, is worth reading because it gives the perspective of US adoption experts who have been struggling through Russia’s red tape to help orphans.

"The adults are playing politics, and it's unfortunate to the extreme that children are being used as pawns," the media quotes Adam Pertman, of the Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption, said that the Russian parliament has forgotten about the many thousands of very happy children who have been adopted by loving U.S. families.

Bill Blacquiere of Bethany Christian Services, one of the largest U.S. adoption agencies, pointed out that Russia should better use the American expertise in adoptions rather than strain relations.

The bill is yet to be signed by the president so we might expect more articles on the issue very soon. 


Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russian orphanages Magnitsky Act    

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