06:30 GMT +3 hours29 November 2014
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US ‘Regrets’ Russian Adoption Ban Bill Headed to Putin

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The United States said Wednesday that it regrets Russian lawmakers’ approval of a bill that would ban US adoptions of Russian children, saying the legislation would deny many young people a childhood outside state custody.

WASHINGTON, December 26 (RIA Novosti) - The United States said Wednesday that it regrets Russian lawmakers’ approval of a bill that would ban US adoptions of Russian children, saying the legislation would deny many young people a childhood outside state custody.

Russia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday unanimously voted in favor of the legislation, which is part of Russia’s legal retaliation to the US Magnitsky Act. The newly minted US law denies visas to Russian officials deemed by Washington to be complicit in human rights abuses and freezes their US assets.

“It is misguided to link the fate of children to unrelated political considerations,” US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said of the Russian bill in a statement released Wednesday.

The bill, already passed by Russia’s lower house of parliament, will be sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin for consideration. Putin has indicated that he supports the adoption ban, though he has the option to veto the bill as well.

Ventrell said Wednesday that US families have given homes to more than 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years.

“The bill passed by Russia’s parliament would prevent many children from enjoying this opportunity,” Ventrell said.

UNICEF says there are about 740,000 children without parental care in Russia, according to the Associated Press.

If Putin signs the bill, it will become law on Jan. 1, halting the adoption of 46 Russian children by US families whose cases are currently being processed, said Pavel Astakhov on Wednesday, Russia’s ombudsman for child rights.

The adoption ban bill headed for Putin’s desk is named after a two-year-old Russian boy, Dima Yakovlev (Chase Harrison), who died in 2008 after being left in a car by his adoptive US father. The father was later acquitted of manslaughter.

Russian officials have repeatedly expressed concern about the safety of Russian children adopted by US parents, and they have cited 19 cases in which Russian children have died at the hands of their adoptive American parents.

Critics of the bill say an overwhelming amount of American/Russian adoptions are successful and that child abuse is a pressing issue inside Russia.