Obama asked to retaliate over Russia adoption ban 24 декабря 2012, 10:45
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Obama asked to retaliate over Russia adoption ban
Tens of thousands of petitioners are calling for US President Barack Obama to escalate the diplomatic feud that led Moscow to propose a law barring Americans from adopting Russian children, AFP reports.
Some Russian lawmakers denounced the initiative Sunday, but a senior member of the Duma, Russia's lower parliamentary chamber, suggested there might still be a way for the measures to be softened.
Two petitions on the White House website are asking for US sanctions against Russian lawmakers who backed a bill that one of the documents says will "jeopardize lives and well-being of thousands of Russian orphans."
Moscow sees the ban on adoptions as retaliation for a US human rights law that allows the seizure of assets from Russian officials implicated in the 2009 death of a Russian lawyer.
Under the US law, those same officials would also be barred from entering the United States. It has been dubbed the Magnitsky Act after Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer who blew the whistle on what he said was a $235 million police embezzlement scheme.
More than 40,000 people have signed one of the petitions, saying they are "outraged" by the Russian move.
Russian lawmakers "breached all imaginable boundaries of humanity, responsibility, or common sense and chose to jeopardize lives and well-being of thousands of Russian orphans, some of whom, the ill and the disabled ones, now might not have a chance of survival if the ban on international adoption is to be put in place," the petition continues.
The petitioners urged the Obama administration to "identify those involved in adopting such legislature responsible under the 'Magnitsky Act.'"
A second petition, signed by more than 5,000 people, asks that the Magnitsky Act "be extended to supporters of this law in (the) Russian Duma."
According to White House rules, there will be an official response if the petition reaches 25,000 signatures within 30 days.
Russian deputy Irina Yarovaya, who heads the Duma's security committee, denounced the petitions.
Such initiatives "cross the limits of international law, of international relations and of a nation's sovereign rights," said Yarovaya in comments cited by Russian news agency Interfax.
Another lawmaker, Vyacheslav Nikonov, told Moscow Echo Radio that if Washington acted on the petitions, it could lead to "very serious diplomatic complications."
Nikonov is a senior member of the Duma's international relations committee.
Soviet-era dissident Lyudmila Alexeyeva however backed the US initiative, the Interfax agency reported.
"According to our constitution, our lawmakers don't have the right to adopt laws that violate human rights," the rights campaigner said.
"Is the right of every unhappy child waiting to be adopted in an orphanage is violated by the law voted by the Duma? Of course."
The Duma passed the adoption ban without debate in a quick 420-7 vote on Friday as protesters picketed the building demanding the measure be voted down.
The Kremlin-dominated upper house is now expected to approve the bill Wednesday before passing it on to President Vladimir Putin for his signature. The Russian leader has indicated he is ready to put his name on the measure so that it could enter law on January 1.
But deputy chairman of the Duma Sergei Zheleznya hinted the measures could be softened.
"In the year it will take for the bilateral (adoption) agreement to be scrapped, the Americans should, if they want to keep it, give us guarantees of unfettered access to adopted children and the possibility of defending their rights," he said, according to Interfax.
Between 2008 and 2011, American parents adopted 5,177 of the 14,660 Russian children adopted by foreigners, according to figures provided to AFP by the office of Pavel Astakhov, Putin's children's rights commissioner.
The measure, which underscores the severity of the recent strain in Russia-US ties, would thus end more than a thousand adoptions a year.
Caregivers fear the new rules will hit the most disadvantaged children because foreign adoptive parents are often ready to adopt kids rejected by Russian families.
During the same period -- 2008 to 2011 -- Russians adopted 33,300 children. While Russian parents adopted 137 disabled children, foreigners adopted 728 such children.
Moscow's proposed ban is unofficially called the Dima Yakovlev bill in memory of a Russian child who died of heat stroke while locked in a car by his adoptive US parent in the summer heat in 2008.