MOSCOW, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Friday an anti-U.S. adoption bill, a retaliatory measure to a U.S. law concerning human rights violations.
Russian lawmakers said the bill is a response to the reported abuse of Russian children by their adoptive parents in the United States. Since 1999, 19 Russian children have died at the hands of their American adoptive parents.
The bill Putin signed Friday includes several provisions that help fulfill state policy concerning the protection of underage orphans and children left without parental care, ITAR-Tass reported.
Adoptions of Russian children by American parents already in progress have stopped, RIA Novosti reported.
"I don't see how one of those members of [Russian] Parliament can look at those children and say 'this is what's best for you, you could have had a home and a family and now that's not going to happen,'" Bill Deutsch told RIA Novosti. He and his wife are in the process of adopting 13-year-old Tim and 11-year-old Ana from Russia, both are HIV-positive.
Earlier this year, U.S. and Russian negotiators reached agreement on a new inter-country adoption treaty that addresses many of the concerns of Russian officials.
But tensions erupted last month when President Obama signed into law the Magnitsky Act, which calls for sanctions against Russian citizens deemed by the United States to have violated human rights. The measure was named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistle-blower lawyer who died in a Russian prison in 2009 after accusing officials of involvement in a multimillion dollar tax fraud scheme.
In response, Russian lawmakers passed their own human rights legislation, including the adoption ban.
Critics say the Russian legislation impacts children in need of parents, particularly older children and children with special needs, RIA Novosti said.
"They are not given adequate health care, adequate education, anything; it's terrible," said Andrea Roberts, co-founder of Reece's Rainbow, a U.S. advocacy organization that supports parents adopting special-needs children. "And now, they've become casualties of war."
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