MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children, part of a harsh response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be human-rights violators.
Although some top Russian officials including the foreign minister openly opposed the bill and Putin himself had been noncommittal about it last week, he signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where both houses passed it overwhelmingly.
The law also calls for closure of nongovernmental organizations receiving American funding if their activities are classified as political — a broad definition many fear could be used to close any nongovernmental organization that offends the Kremlin.
It was not immediately clear when the law would take effect, but presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying “practically, adoption stops on Jan. 1.”
Children’s-rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said 52 children who were in the pipeline for U.S. adoption would remain in Russia.
The bill has angered Americans and Russians who argue it victimizes children to make a political point, cutting off a route out of frequently dismal orphanages for thousands.
“Our unlucky children, our orphans are suffering because they became small change in a political game between two states. This is immoral, this is cannibalism,” veteran human-rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti.