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    Over 1,200 children adopted in Russia dead since 1991 - expert

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    A Moscow children's rights expert said Monday that 1,220 Russian children adopted by Russians had died since 1991, including 12 killed by their foster parents.

    MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow children's rights expert said Monday that 1,220 Russian children adopted by Russians had died since 1991, including 12 killed by their foster parents.

    Galina Semya said that 116 cases of serious physical abuse had been registered in the same period, with 23 cases of serious physical abuse by foster parents.

    Adoption has been in the political spotlight recently following a string of high-profile abuse cases involving Russian children adopted by foreigners that have prompted calls to tighten up regulation of adoption procedures.

    "Since 1991, five children adopted by foreigners have been killed, and 16 have died in accidents," Semya said, adding that another 119 children had been returned to Russia.

    American citizen Peggy Sue Hilt, 34, was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for killing her adopted two-year-old Russian daughter, originally named Viktoria Bazhenova, in a fit of fury.

    Last week, Sergei Apatenko of the Education Ministry said independent adoptions of Russian children by foreign citizens would be banned in Russia by the end of this year in the wake of the incidents.

    Apatenko also said foreign families had adopted 64,000 Russian children since 1999, when foreign adoptions were allowed in the country, whereas Russian families had adopted 157,000 children.

    He called for adoption procedures in Russia to be simplified to reduce the number of foreign adoptions.

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