Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday signed a bill into a law that bans U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children.
The law is viewed as retaliation for a U.S. law that imposed sanctions on Russians who have a record of human rights violations from traveling to the United States and acquiring tangible assets in the country.
The bill, which was approved Wednesday by the Russian parliament, has created an international outcry. The law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, has sparked an outrage among liberal and children's rights advocates in Russia, Reuters has reported.
The U.S. bill, named after Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in custody, was mainly meant to punish human right violators. Russia, in a tit-for-tat move, passed the law named after a Russian toddler, Dima Yakovlev, who died in the U.S. in 2008 after his adopted U.S. father had left him in a car in boiling heat for hours.
The father was pronounced not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Referring to the issue, Putin said that U.S. authorities routinely let Americans suspected of violence toward Russian adoptees go unpunished.
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The law is expected to strain U.S.-Russia relations and adversely affect thousands of orphaned children in Russia. According to the UNICEF data, there are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia.
Russia has been one of the prime locations for Americans seeking to adopt children. According to adoption agencies, more than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by American parents in the past two decades.
"Over the last 20 years, 60,000 children have been adopted from Russia," Lauren Koch, spokeswoman for the National Council for Adoption, was quoted as saying by Fox News. "If this bill is enacted, this means that tens of thousands of children will languish in orphanages.”
In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said that it regretted the Russian decision to ban adoptions as it would prevent several children from growing up in families.
The new Russian law also places restrictions on some of the non-profit organizations that accept U.S. funding and imposes a visa ban on and asset freeze of Americans accused of violating the rights of Russians abroad, according to Reuters.