MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin left little room for maneuvering Thursday when he suggested he was likely to sign the so-called Dima Yakovlev law, which would ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans.
The measure, which includes other sanctions against the United States, is intended as a response to an American law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama earlier this month. The Sergei Magnitsky Act denies visas to Russian officials involved in the prosecution and death of a Russian lawyer and whistleblower who called attention to alleged official corruption.
The Russian counter-measure, passed by both houses of the Russian parliament, provides a whole range of punitive actions, including visa restrictions for specified U.S. officials and the adoption ban. The latter has attracted widespread attention, raising deep concern and apprehension among U.S. families hoping to adopt children from Russia. It also has been criticized by Russian civil society and human rights groups.
During a Kremlin government meeting Thursday, Putin lashed out at the United States for behaving “with a defiant arrogance” and said that he sees no reason not to sign the Russian law but needs some time to study it. His remarks were laced with sarcasm as he discussed foreign adoptions.
“There are probably many places in the world where the level of life is higher than here,” he said in televised remarks. “So what? Shall we send all our children there? Maybe we should all move there too, shouldn’t we?”
Assuming it is signed before New Year's, the Russian bill would take effect on Jan. 1. It would apply immediately to about 1,500 Russian children whose adoption cases are already in courts pending approval.
Russian lawmakers named the bill after Dima Yakovlev, a year-and-a-half-old boy who died four years ago after being left for several hours in a hot, locked car in a parking lot by his adoptive American father.
Over the last two decades U.S. families have adopted more than 60,000 children from Russia. Nineteen reportedly have died in accidents or from domestic abuse and neglect, figures used by Russian lawmakers in justifying the legitimacy of an adoption ban.