26 December 2012, 18:48

Russia-US adoption agreement doomed?

Russia-US adoption agreement doomed?

As soon as President Putin enacts the ban on US adoption of Russian orphans, Russia is likely to initiate motions to tear up its child adoption agreement with the United States.

The announcement came from Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

The ban is named after Dima Yakovlaev, a Russian boy who suffocated in a locked car after being left there by his American adoptive father.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

Dima Yakovlev bill doesn’t violate UN children’s rights convention – Dolgov

Russia’s Dima Yakovlev bill, which was today approved by the country’s upper-house, doesn’t breach the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, a Russian top foreign affair official said Wednesday.

Konstantin Dolgov, Foreign Affairs Ministry’s human rights ombudsman, has criticized the US for saying the law which bans adoptions of Russian children by Americans violated the country’s international commitments.

Washington has unleashed a flurry of accusations claiming the ban broke the UN convention that protects children’s rights.

“We’d like to remind the US it happens to be one of the three countries that refused to adopt the UN convention on children’s rights,” Mr. Dolgov pointed out.

Russia’s Federation Council passes Dima Yakovlev bill

Russia’s upper-house Federation Council has approved the much-disputed Dima Yakovlev bill, barring US citizens from adopting Russian children, with a total of 143 votes.

The law also denies entry to Russia to those Americans who have allegedly abused human rights of Russian nationals, freezes their assets and prohibits any financial activity in the country.

In another amendment, the legislation suspends US-funded non-profits from taking part in Russia’s political life.

Voice of Russia, RIA, Interfax

Russian MFA hopes for better relations with US despite Magnitsky Act

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has told the Voice of Russia he hoped the adoption of the Magnitsky Act didn’t cause an irreparable damage to US-Russian relations.

“We hope we can still turn over this page and the harm that’s already been done to our ties won’t be irreparable and we’ll be able to go on, although it is indeed a heavy burden that will surely weigh these relations down,” Mr. Ryabkov said, adding the law was in effect anti-Russian.

Senator calls to hold on to US-Russia parliamentary ties

Mikhail Margelov from the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee has called on Russian and American senators to maintain their official contacts despite the Magnitsky row.

Mr. Margelov pointed out that, although the new law contradicted the “rest policy” in US-Russia relations, it would be “strategically wrong” to give up any cross-parliamentary dialogue between the two nations.

This statement came Wednesday as the Russian upper house debated the anti-Magnitsky bill .

Voice of Russia, Interfax

Russian senators back Dima Yakovlev bill

Alexei Lyakhov, Lada Korotun

On Wednesday, the Federation Council, upper chamber of the Russian parliament, has backed the Dima Yakovlev bill. The bill was dubbed after a 21-month-old Russian child died of heatstroke in July 2008 when his adoptive US father left him unattended in a car for nine hours.

The bill envisages tough visa and economic sanctions against the citizens of the US and other countries who violate the rights of Russian citizens. It also bans US citizens from adopting Russian orphans. The senators have approved the draft by a solid vote.

The Dima Yakovlev law retaliates for enactment of the Magnitsky Act in the United States, which bans Russian officials deemed guilty of human rights abuses to enter the US. The draft law is also Moscow’s response to careless attitude of the US authorities towards the Russian children adopted by US citizens. Last week the State Duma, low house of parliament, approved the bill by overwhelming majority of votes.

In early December the US Senate voted for abandoning the Jackson Vannik amendment but at the same time it approved the Magnitsky Act, the bill which bans Russian officials whom the US suspects of being involved in the death of Sergey Magnitsky, an attorney of Hermitage Capital, in a detention cell in Moscow, to enter the US. The act sparked harsh criticism in Moscow. Russia had attentively followed every stage of the discussion on abandoning Jackson-Vannik amendment and approving the Magnitsky act. Moscow has always stressed the destructive nature of replacing one amendment with another, Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the Federation Council, says

"That law, the so-called Magnitsky law is aimed against Russian citizens whose guilt has not been proved by the court yet but who were a priori found guilty in the US. This is a very unfriendly gesture to Russia. I am sure that some political forces are interested in the presence of constant political pressure on Russia. If the US Congress adopted a universal law banning entry to the US for citizens of any country who violate human rights that could be understood. But why is Washington doing such an unfriendly gesture amid the current reset of the US-Russia relations on which the global stability depends? Why did they chose Russia for it?"

The response of Russian lawmakers came up with the Dima Yakovlev bill, which bans US citizens to adopt Russian children. This is the reaction to the reluctance of the US authorities to adequately react on the cases of violence against Russian children. In the last 10 years, US adoptive parents were guilty of deaths of 19 Russian children in the US but no one of them was brought to responsibility.

Not many people know that Somalia and the US are the only countries in the world which still have not signed the International convention on children rights, Andrei Klishas, head of the committee on constitutional legislation, says.

"The US has not ratified the Convention on children rights. People often wonder why the US has not done this and what this Convention implies. Let me explain. For example, article 28 the article of the Convention stipulates that the right for education is one of children fundamental rights. I think it would be strange for many people to learn that the US does not recognize children’s right for education as a fundamental right."

Signed last summer and brought into force in November, the Russian-U.S. agreement on child adoption stipulates control over the life of adopted Russian kids in America. But in reality, this mechanism is not working, says Russian senator Konstantin Tsybko. He notes that at present there is no need for Russian orphans to be adopted by Americans. The government has every opportunity to stimulate this process inside Russia, the senator told reporters.

"The aim of the bill is to protect our children, give them a worthy childhood in Russia, enable Russian families to adopt children through simpler adoption formalities and provide financial and organizational support to such families. Russians have responsive hearts. Russia is capable of giving its citizens a worthy childhood."

Opinion polls show that the majority of Russians back the Dima Yakovlev bill and the amendments to it, Alexander Oslon, President of the Public Opinion Foundation, told the Voice of Russia.

"Today, 53% of Russians agree that tighter rules are needed, and 22% would welcome a complete ban on adoptions by foreigners."

Moscow’s response to the unfriendly Magnitsky Act is quite symmetrical, Russian lawmakers say. In addition to banning Americans from adopting Russian children, the Dima Yakovlev bill virtually bans American NGOs engaged in political activity and financed by Washington from operating in Russia. It also bans Americans from heading Russian-based NGOs.

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