Moratorium on US adoption of Russian children

Russia signalled on Saturday that it could soon slap a moratorium on US adoptions of local children despite the signing of an agreement on the issue in 2011, the latest obstacle in tense relations.

The foreign ministry said in an angry statement that US courts had recently issued a series of unjustifiably lenient sentences to parents who abused Russian children and that such treatment deserved Moscow’s response.

“Against the backdrop of an unending series of crimes in the United States against Russian children, the Russian foreign ministry believes … it expedient to suspend the adoptions procedure for US citizens in the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

It said a special adoptions agreement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in July 2011 still needed to be toughened before going into effect.

The United States has the world’s largest percentage of adoptive parents and Russia has been one of its biggest providers.

Moscow has long argued it should have more oversight on the adoption process and the row has often been an irritant that flares into diplomatic disputes when the former Cold War rivals clash over other issues, such as the current Syria crisis.

Severe punishment
The ministry made particular reference to the light jail sentence handed in February to a Pennsylvania woman whose Russian toddler was hospitalised with burns over 10% of her body after a particularly severe punishment.

The court ruling “arouses profound dissatisfaction and disapproval,” the Russian statement said.

The foreign ministry’s recommendation means that Russia’s lower house of parliament — a chamber dominated by pro-Kremlin forces — is likely to quickly pick up debate on a bill imposing a moratorium on adoptions by US families.

Such calls have been made in recent weeks by other Russian officials and the chamber’s approval is expected in the coming weeks.

The ministry’s statement was issued just a day after a military court handed down a 13-year jail sentence to a Russian space engineer who was charged with handing secret missile data to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Analysts said such sentences are rarely publicised by Russian authorities unless relations with the United States are at a low. –Sapa-AFP

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