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In response to U.S. criticism of Russia's human rights record, parliament in Moscow is considering a bill that would prohibit American citizens from adopting Russian children. Members of the State Duma (Russia's House of Representatives) have explicitly raised the issue in response to a new U.S. law that targeted specific Russian officials who have been accused of being responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison after speaking out against the interior ministry. 

Despite the desire to fight back against the Americans, many lawmakers have pushed back against the adoption rule, saying it would unfairly punish Russian children who would have no hope for a better life without foreign help. Some activists even picketed the Duma building in protest, leading to several arrests on Wednesday. In 2011, Americans adopted 956 Russian kids (nearly one-third of all foreign adoptions), many of them disabled or suffering from other untreated illnesses. The bill would also ban non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding from participating as adoption agencies.

The large number of Russia-to-America adoptions has been encouraged by both nations in the past, but has led to some controversies and bad feelings. The Russian bill is named after Dima Yakovelv, a Russian orphan who died in America after after being left in a hot car by his adoptive father. In 2010, an American woman put her 7-year-old adopted son on a plane back to Moscow, claiming he had severe behavior problems she could no longer control.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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