Russia Turns Down US Pleas to Moderate Dima Yakovlev Law
The Russian legislature’s approval late last year of the so-called Dima Yakovlev Law, which bans the adoption of Russian children by US citizens, has caused an angry official reaction in the United States.
Earlier this month, State Department employees held several meetings with Russian embassy staff in Washington in a bid to inquire about the fates of the children who had been already introduced to their would-be American parents. The 135-member Congressional Coalition on Adoption also tried to start talks with the Russian authorities.
In late December 2012, the Senate passed Resolution 628 condemning the Dima Yakovlev Law. The House followed suit on January 14, approving a similar document. Two weeks ago, 118 Representatives and Senators signed a letter to President Vladimir Putin, urging him to authorize the completion of pending adoptions.
A recent congressional letter to the US President suggests that adoptions should be made the central point of future negotiations with Russia, specifying that between 350 and 500 Russian orphans involved in an active stage of the adoption process become victims of the Dima Yakovlev Law.
Several prominent US legislators, including Senators John McCain and John Kerry, signed an appeal urging the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry to moderate certain provisions of the law.
The only response to the congressional pleas so far has been a letter from the Russian Foreign Ministry’s human rights commissioner Konstantin Dolgov, who said he saw no point in continuing cooperation with the United States in this area. The Russian legislature’s action was a forced measure dictated by the consistently unconstructive position of the US federal and local authorities, while abuse of young adoptees from Russia had become a regular occurrence in American families. Russia feels particularly indignant in the face of the US agencies’ passive reaction to these problems, including court acquittals of the killers of Russian children, says the letter in conclusion.
Russia’s fight for the rights of Russian orphans could lead to the emergence of new institutions and organizations in America itself. To begin with, the Kremlin intends to set up an NGO to collect information about adoptive children’s living conditions. The initiative has received support both in Moscow and Washington but its implementation is being temporarily delayed by some “purely technical complications,” including uncertainty as to how and by whom this organization will be funded.
Riot Police Stand By and Watch Attack on LGBT Activists
The Russian authorities seem to have given up their monopoly on the use of force, allowing an unofficial group to break up a peaceful lesbian-gay-bisexual-transvestite (LGBT) rally using violence.
With the current Russian laws blocking virtually any opportunity for people to publicly express their views on political issues, a group of LGBT activists chose to gather outside the Duma to stage a peaceful kiss-in protest against a planned bill that would ban "homosexual propaganda."
The event attracted other people – people in favor of anti-gay discrimination. They organized themselves through social networks, openly calling for gay people to be intimidated and beaten up. Several dozen people answered these calls.
Photographs show how the riot police stood by and watched – not without pleasure – as a group of “Orthodox fundamentalists” attacked the gay protesters. When they finally intervened, they selectively arrested the participants of the “unsanctioned rally” – the gay couples who dared to kiss in public – and left their attackers alone.
You might wonder, with some irony, why it is so important to promote homosexuality among minors. But the bill is about more than this. Any bill restricting information to minors leads to the impossibility of raising the issue publicly at all because any public platform might be accessed by underage citizens. A bill like this shuts people up, preventing a couple of million Russians from defending their rights. It legitimizes discrimination. Initially devised to protect children, it leads to depression and suicide among homosexual teenagers.
You might think it is none of your business. You have no gay relatives or friends. But you probably do, the statistics suggest. They just don’t tell you because they're not sure they can trust you. In any case, when riot police watch calmly with smiles on their faces as one group of people attacks another, it is everybody’s business.
A monopoly on legitimate violence is an underlying principle of any state or government. Without it, it is not a government, but a gang that controls a certain area and resources. The policemen seemed happy to step aside as a gang of civilian thugs carried out a politically motivated act of violence against peaceful protesters. They don’t like gay people. And their dislike seems more important to them than the principle of statehood – their exclusive right to use force.
A parliament that adopts a discriminatory law means Russia has an unwise and backward stance on a key issue on the global agenda. When the police disperse a peaceful rally that does not violate a single regulation it means that Russia is an authoritarian state. The police crippling and beating people up while dispersing a rally is an abuse of power. But a state authority publicly handing its law enforcement powers over to an unauthorized group means Russia has lost all semblance of statehood and authority.
Football Official Admits Bribe Attempt from Morocco to Lobby World Cup Bid
Longtime director of the Soviet and then Russian football authority Vyacheslav Koloskov, who served as vice-president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), has admitted Moroccan officials offered him generous remuneration for lobbying for their bid to host the 1998 World Cup.
“I spent 28 years in various FIFA structures, participated on many occasions in such selection processes, and I can tell you about the time I was offered a bribe,” Koloskov said. “In the early 1990s, France and Morocco were in fierce competition for the right to host the World Cup. I was approached by a Moroccan official and offered a serious financial incentive. I immediately brought this issue to the attention of the FIFA executive committee and Morocco lost all chances of getting FIFA’s support. This is, in many ways, why France ended up hosting the 1998 World Cup.”
Another major scandal recently broke in the world of football. The authoritative French publication France Football accused Qatar of buying the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
French media are repeating allegations of an investigation from two years ago, when British reporters brought to light the fact that many senior FIFA officials were selling votes to the United States Soccer Federation. However, new facts have emerged from France Football reporter Eric Champel’s investigations.
In particular, it has been reported that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy put pressure on UEFA President Michel Platini in 2010, so that he changed his mind and voted not for the United States. but for Qatar. The reason for this was cited as “geopolitics.” The Qataris promised to invest more money in the Paris football club Paris Saint-Germain in return.
Koloskov said he does not believe such a scheme. However, he said that this investigation may tarnish the reputation of French officials claiming to be world football luminaries.
“Mr. Platini has already responded to the accusations that he is an independent actor and no one can impose their will on him,” Koloskov said. “I met with him when he was in the bid committee for the 2018 World Cup. We had a business breakfast, where I told him about all the favorable aspects of our application and advantages over other bidders. He told me straight – ‘Vyacheslav, I will make the decision myself.’ All distinct, clear and understandable. I do not really believe that Sarkozy called Platini and forced him to vote a certain way. Sooner or later it would become public knowledge. And who wants to be shamed in front of the whole world! If these allegations are proven, then Platini will lose his credibility and will never be FIFA president. However, a bribe must still be proven. FIFA will not hide anything and will hold an independent inquiry.”
France Football is promising to hand over all the collected data to FIFA so that the federation can raise the issue of stripping Qatar of the right to host the World Cup.
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