Magnitsky Act: Putin Bans Russian Adoptions in Retaliation

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he will sign legislation prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by Americans. 

The move is supposedly retaliation for a law passed in the U.S. that Russia didn’t like, but it seems like the only people it will hurt are the Russian orphans that will now be denied a better home.

The U.S. recently placed restrictions on some officials, not allowing them to enter the country or put their money in American banks. The move, according to NPR's Corey Flintoff, is meant to "expose Russian officials who are alleged to have been involved in a massive tax fraud and the death of a Russian lawyer who ... uncovered that crime."

The lawyer, 37-year-old Sergei Magnitsky, died in 2009 under suspicious circumstances in police custody after discovering what he reportedly called a “web of corruption” involving Russian tax officials.

After none of the officials suspected of involvement in the lawyer’s death were punished in Russia, the U.S. passed the Magnitsky Act, imposing sanctions on the 60 officials. The Obama administration was against the act, since it was clear from the beginning that it wouldn’t do anything to help Russian-American relations running smoothly, and retaliation was expected.

How blocking adoptions arose as the chosen response to the restrictions, I’m not sure, though Flintoff suggested that the adoption of Russian children by Americans has long been a point of contention.

“They see it as an admission that Russia can't take care of its own children,” he said.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia, while only 18,000 Russians are now waiting to adopt a child. The United States is the most common destination for adopted Russian children, with more than 60,000 such adoptions in the last 20 years, according to NPR. Keeping thousands of children from happy homes to make a political point is going too far.

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Lilly O'Donnell

Lilly O'Donnell is a freelance writer, currently working on her first book.

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