Russia's Children's Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov called on Monday for a ban on foreign foster families, including those from the United States, adopting Russian children.
“Do not believe the myths and hysterical warnings of those who try to convince us that foreign adoptions must not be banned because that would leave Russian orphans without a future – these are all lies,” Astakhov told Russian lawmakers at hearings on human rights problems in the United States.
He said adoption was a lucrative business that brings in about $1.5 billion a year.
“Those who spin us tales about the happy lives that Russian children have in America, and their bright future there, are either involved in this business or are simply unscrupulous,” Astakhov said.
Adoptions have become a thorny issue in US-Russia relations following a series of scandals, including the uproar surrounding a seven-year-old boy who was sent back to Russia unaccompanied in 2010 by a US-based adoptive mother.
Russian officials claim at least 19 Russian children have died following abuse by American foster parents since adoption of Russian children by Americans began in the early 1990's.
Russia’s Lower House of Parliament, the State Duma, in July ratified adoption deals with the United States and France, stipulating that a Russian child can only be adopted by a foreign family if no Russian parents can be found.
The agreements also stipulate that all adopted Russian children will hold both Russian and American passports until they become legal adults, after which they may choose their citizenship.