26 December 2012, 15:00

Russian senators back Dima Yakovlev bill

Russian senators back Dima Yakovlev bill
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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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