WASHINGTON, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and the United States have agreed to establish regular dialogue on the protection of rights of Russian children adopted by US families, a Russian diplomat said on Wednesday after talks with US officials in Washington.
“There is a mutual understanding that the dialogue must be improved and expanded,” said Konstantin Dolgov, the human rights ombudsman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, who led the Russian delegation at the talks requested by the United States in the wake of Russia’s ban on adoptions of Russian children by US citizens.
“One of the ways could be setting up a working group or some other mechanism under a different name that would meet on a regular basis,” Dolgov said.
According to the Russian official, Moscow also proposed to expand and enhance the existing database on all Russian adoptees living in the United States to facilitate the monitoring of their living conditions in American families.
“We have some ideas on how to do it, and we are hoping that the American side would provide us with all necessary assistance on this issue,” Dolgov said.
Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said in his Twitter blog on Wednesday that Moscow and Washington had agreed in principle to set up a working group on adoptions that would meet twice a year to discuss pending adoption questions on both sides.
Russia enacted a ban on adoptions of Russian children by US citizens in the beginning of this year, in part due to concerns about previous deaths of adopted Russian children. Americans have adopted an estimated 60,000 Russian orphans over the last 20 years, and at least 20 of those children have died allegedly because of negligence or child abuse by foster parents.
However, the ban has been criticized both at home and abroad as mostly politically motivated because it was originally conceived as retaliation to the controversial Magnitsky Act – a US law banning Russian officials deemed by Washington to have violated human rights from entering the United States and freezing any US assets they may have.