MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) – The US government has given Moscow a list of 61,625 Russian children adopted by US citizens, the Kremlin’s ombudsman for children’s rights said in an interview published Monday.
“It’s the first time we have received such a thing in the whole history of our international adoptions,” ombudsman Pavel Astakhov told state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
Russia banned adoptions to the United States late last year. The official explanation was that American authorities were not giving Russia adequate access to the adoptees in order to track their welfare.
At the same time, a Kremlin spokesman said the ban was triggered by US legislation imposing visa and asset sanctions against Russian officials who Washington unilaterally deemed guilty of human rights violations.
Astakhov, who vociferously supported the adoption ban, criticized the comprehensiveness of the list recently handed over by Washington, saying there were actually more Russian children living in the United States, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported.
“We have already found five of our children still living without any official status in US families: They arrived for medical treatment, to study or for a vacation and stayed.”
Astakhov was also quoted on Monday as reiterating previous assertions that Russia was determined to prevent 259 would-be adoptees from traveling to the United States.
He said that 116 children whose adoptions had been halted in late stages were already living with Russian families. Most of the rest would have already forgotten any meetings with their prospective US parents, he added.
“What attachment, what ‘moral suffering’ can you speak of here?” Astakhov was quoted as saying.
The adoption ban, dubbed the Dima Yakovlev law in reference to a Russian child who reportedly died in the care of his adoptive American parents, was passed soon after the United States' Magnitsky Act, named after a Russian lawyer who died in pretrial detention after accusing Russian officials of tax evasion.
Of the more than 60,000 Russian children adopted by US citizens since the end of the Soviet Union, at least 20 have died in the care of their adoptive parents.