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Ban on U.S. adoptions advances in Russia

Dec. 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A bill that would ban U.S. adoptions of Russian children passed its second reading Wednesday in the Duma.

If the measure passes its third reading Friday and is approved by the Federation Council and signed by President Vladimir Putin, it would take effect in January, RIA Novosti reported. Putin has not said whether he approves the adoption ban, which also bars Russian organizations from helping with U.S. adoptions.

Police said about 20 protesters were arrested outside the Parliament building.

The so-called Dima Yakovlev bill was proposed as part of the Russian response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which, in part, targeted Russian officials involved in the 2009 prison death of Russian anti-corruption whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky. It was scheduled for a second reading Wednesday in the State Duma, Russia's lower house, RIA Novosti reported.

Dozens of people demonstrated outside the Duma in Moscow to protest the adoption ban critics charge would leave Russian children in outdated state-run facilities.

The bill is named after Dima Yakovlev, a 21-month-old who died of heatstroke in July 2008 after his adoptive father left him unattended in a vehicle for hours in Virginia in 2009.

The adoption ban is the most controversial part of the legislation, which also would ban alleged U. S. abusers of Russian citizens' rights from entering Russia, and would freeze assets they have under Russian jurisdiction.

If the bill is signed into law, it would nullify a U.S.-Russia pact in which the countries agreed to additional safeguards to protect children and parties involved in inter-country adoptions, CNN said.

CNN cited U.S. State Department data that indicated 45,112 adoptions to the United States came from Russia from 1999 to 2011, second only to China.

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