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Today Russian lawmakers voted in a new law that banned the adoption of Russian children by American citizens, the New York Times. The broad scope of the law, however, is bringing with wider worries that the “Cold War” is alive and well.The bill, named after Dima Yakovlev, one of 19 Russian children adopted in the US who died in the last few decades, passed the State Duma with 400 votes for and just 4 against. It will now go before Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A number of adoption scandals have led Russians to be increasingly sceptical about the intentions and ability of prospective US parents . Perhaps the most notorious recent case was the 2010 case of 7-year-old Artyem Saveliev, adopted by a Tennessee family but then put on a plane back to Moscow after allegedly showing signs of violent behaviour. Saveliev reportedly had a “to whom it may concern” note pinned to his clothes.
The incredible scope of the law, however, suggests it may be not just about adoption scandals, and a retaliatory act against the US. Fred Weir of the Christian Science Monitor notes that in addition to adoption rules, the bill would also “order the closure of any politically-active nongovernmental organisation with US funding, and block US passport-holders from working in any nonprofit group that authorities deem connected with politics.”
The timing of the move has lead many to believe it is a retaliatory act for the Senate passing the so-called “Magnitsky act”, which seeks to ban a number of Russian officials from the US. Those officials had allegedly been involved in a tax fraud conspiracy that is believed to have to lead to the death of a investment fund lawyer in a Moscow jail.
The Russian government reacted furiously when the Senate passed the Magnitsky Act with the Russian foreign ministry blasting a number of criticisms from to the US. “Apparently, Washington has forgotten what year this is and still thinks the Cold War is going on,” one tweet read.
Curiously, as Weir notes, the unusually harsh tone and broad scope of the Duma bill has caused even the Russian government to balk. “International adoption as an institution has a full right to exist,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the official ITAR-Tass agency today.
The Times reports that Putin has not expressed any opinion on the case as of yet.