What started as a political protest against American interference has turned into an actual law banning American parents from adopting children in Russia and only awaits the signature of President Vladimir Putin to take effect. On Wednesday, the upper house of Russia's Parliament voted unanimously—143 to zero—to ban the American adoptions. The bill was already passed by the lower house last week, as a response to a new American law barring Russian citizens accused of human rights violations from traveling to or doing business in the United States.
Last week, Putin expressed some support for the bill saying it was an "appropriate response" to the American provocation. However, it has also sparked a rare public split among many of Moscow's top political leaders. Even some members of Putin's government have spoken out against the bill, arguing that foreign adoptions are necessary in a country with hundreds of thousands of orphans who get no support and no hope for a better life. More than 45,000 children have been adopted by Americans since 1999, and officials say that there are 46 adoptions currently in process that will be blocked if the law takes effect. Several protesters were arrested on Wednesday after demonstrating outside Parliament buildings.
The Russian bill is named after Dima Yakovlev, a Russian child who died after his adoptive American father left him in a hot car, and actually supersedes an agreement that was meant to improve adoption procedures and oversight between Russia and the US that just took effect on November 1. It also bans NGOs that receive US sponsorship from operating in the country.
Putin has not definitively said whether he will sign the law, but given the overwhelming support from the Federation Council, it seems likely that he will.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.