Russia again shoots herself while aiming at something else: ban on orphan adoptions by Americans?

The phrase “Russia shot herself while aiming at something else” was often heard by Russians in the early days of post-Communist freedom and the ensuing period of economic chaos. That idea resurfaced with today’s headline at prominent Russian newspaper Gazeta which read “ЕР готовит запрет на усыновление американцами детей из России” (translation: United Russia is preparing a ban on adoptions of Russian children by Americans.)

In striking back at the USA for passage of the “Magnitsky Act” to punish corrupt Russian officials for alleged human rights violations, embezzlement and the alleged torture and murder of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Russia’s United Russia ruling party is preparing legislation to ban adoption of Russian orphans by American families. The newspaper reported that the bill specifically prohibits the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens, and will clamp down on the activities of organizations who facilitate adoptions.

By the end of the day the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State announced that the legislation was fully drafted and approved for introduction to Parliament by the end of this week.

The House of Parliament (дума = "Duma") in Moscow.
The House of Parliament (дума = “Duma”) in Moscow.

If passed, the legislation will break the Agreement on Cooperation for Adoption, signed by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in Washington on 13 July 2011 after the government threatened to end adoptions by American families based on the death of Russian orphan Dima Yakovlev who died after adoption by an American family. United Russia members of Parliament also warned of proposed amendments including a condemnation of the United States for alleged violations of the “fundamental rights and freedoms” of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay.

In addition to putting the final nail in the coffin of remaining American NGO’s which will be closed should the bill pass, the legislation also seeks to prohibit Russians who have U.S. citizenship to be engaged in Russia’s political activities. This was expected following similar comments last week by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reaction in the capital has been varied depending on which side one takes and perhaps one opposition figure said it best by posting on social media that, “In response to the fact that U.S. lawmakers stripped Russian killers the right to hide stolen money or buy property in the U.S., Russian legislators deprive Russian orphans opportunity to be adopted into American families…(so now the) consequences of protecting these criminals means that the Russian authorities have decided to punish Russian orphans.”