Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial law banning American citizens from adopting Russian children.
It is being widely seen as a tit for tat move following a new US human rights law. Putin himself has accused Washington of bringing in anti-Moscow legislation.
Russia’s upper house of parliament voted unanimously in favour of the anti-adoption law, which will come into force on January 1. Putin says the vast majority of Russians are opposed to foreign adoptions.
But adoption agencies and human rights organisations have criticised the move.
Galina Sigayeva of the New Hope Christian Services Adoption Agency said: “It is very sad. It is no secret that most children are adopted by people in the United States. Those children who will otherwise remain here.”
Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch said: “It is not surprising that there is political retribution, that there is a political tit for tat, that’s not surprising, you know. But what’s shocking is that they are using, that they’re putting the well-being of children at risk for the sake of political retribution. And that has to stop.”
Earlier this month, Washington passed the US Magnitsky Act. It blacklists a number of Russian officials that the US deems responsible for the death of anti-corruption lawyer Sergey Magnitsky in 2009.
A thorn in the side of the Russian government, Magnitsky claimed to have uncovered a huge web of corruption involving the state tax authorities.
Magnitsky himself was charged with corruption in 2008, and put in prison where he died of a heart attack aged 37. Many believe that the charges him were trumped up and that he did not receive adequate medical care during his incarceration.
Dmitry Kratov, the only prison official to stand trial over Magnitsky’s death, was acquitted by a Moscow court on Friday.
Although no-one has been prosecuted for Magnitsky’s death, his name lives on in the new Washington law.