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Russian parliament endorses anti-U.S. adoption bill

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 26, 2012 at 6:41 a.m.

— The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament Wednesday unanimously voted in favor of a measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children. It now goes to President Vladimir Putin to sign or turn down.

All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has sparked criticism from both the United States and from Russian activists who say it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape often-dismal orphanages.

The bill is one part of a larger measure by angry lawmakers retaliating against a recently signed U.S. law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human-rights violators. Putin hasn’t committed to signing the bill, but has referred to it as a legitimate response to the new U.S. law.

Some top government officials, including the foreign minister, have spoken flatly against it, arguing the measure would be in violation of Russia’s constitution and international obligations.

But Senator Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the council’s foreign affairs committee, referred to the bill as “a natural and a long overdue response” to the U.S. legislation.

“Children must be placed in Russian families, and this is a cornerstone issue for us,” he said.

Several people with posters protesting the bill were detained outside the Council before the vote. “Children get frozen in the Cold War,” one poster read.

There are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted in the United States in the past 20 years.

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