13:19 GMT +324 February 2017
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    Almost 120,000 Russian orphans adopted last year

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    MOSCOW, February 29 (RIA Novosti) - Some 120,000 Russian orphans were adopted both in Russia and abroad in 2007, a 6.4% increase from 2006, an official with Russia's Science and Education Ministry said on Friday.

    "A significant growth in the amount of children adopted was seen in more than 40% of Russian regions," said Alina Levitskaya, the director of the ministry's department for education, higher education and social protection.

    The official added, however, that number of foreigners adopting Russian children had almost halved. The number of people in Russia adopting children saw a 14.5% growth from 2006, however.

    Only 4,300 Russian orphans were adopted by foreigners last year.

    Russia's authorities have been seeking tighter control over foreign adoptions following several high-profile scandals involving Russian orphans abroad, notably the killing of a 2-year-old girl from Siberia by her adoptive mother in the United States. The woman, Peggy Sue Hilt, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May 2006 after a court in North Carolina convicted her on second-degree murder charges.

    In an effort to protect Russian children eligible for adoption, the government then moved to ban foreigners from adopting children except for via officially registered agencies.

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