A spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin says a recent bilateral agreement on adoption between the U.S. and Russia will remain in force until next year, according to a report in RIA Novosti, Russia’s state news agency. The announcement comes just two weeks after Putin signed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children.
Confused? So are we.
“The agreement is in force at the moment,” the spokesperson told RIA Novosti. “It will be in force over the course of the year.”
It’s not clear what will happen to the 46 children who are currently in the process of being adopted by American families but for the moment remain in Russia. The Kremlin’s recent announcement suggests those adoptions may go forward, but Russian officials could seek to delay the necessary paperwork until January, 2014, when either party can terminate the bilateral agreement.
UPDATE: A press spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. tells Latitude News that if a Russian court approved the adoption before January 1, 2013, that child will be permitted to come to the U.S. We’re waiting to hear back on how many children that applies to.
Orphans become pawns in political chess match
Putin had previously said that enforcing the ban immediately could violate international law. The bilateral agreement went into effect only in November after years of negotiation and was meant to assuage Russian fears over the treatment of adopted children in the U.S.
According to State Department data, Americans have adopted more than 45,000 Russian children since 1999. But a series of high-profile abuse cases, including 19 deaths, have led many Russians to believe American parents routinely mistreat adopted Russian kids in the U.S. The ban, which the State Department called “politically motivated,” is named after Dima Yakovlev, a toddler who died in 2009 after his adoptive father accidentally locked him in a locked car for nine hours.
Nationalist Russian politicians, including Pavel Astakhov, the commissioner for children’s rights, have claimed that adopted Russian children are being turned into sex slaves and “soldiers” against the motherland. RIA Novosti summarizes the ban’s recent political history:
The adoption ban, signed by Putin on December 28, 2012, is part of Russia’s response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in December. The act introduced sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses and was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing lawyer who died in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in 2009.
But many Russians dismiss the claims of widespread abuse as outlandish, arguing such nationalistic rhetoric will prevent children from finding loving homes in the U.S. Some have dubbed the adoption ban the “Scoundrel’s Law” on social media websites.
Latitude News has devoted a lot of coverage to tensions between the U.S. and Russia over adoption. If you’d like to read more about the shady backstory and geopolitical wrangling behind the adoption ban, you can do so here. You can also visit our “Topic Hub” on adoption for a complete run-down.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.