Vladimir Putin’s anti-American bill affects inter-country relations, Russian children
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 20:02
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that bans American citizens from adopting Russian children. This bill leaves pending adoptions in limbo and is a critical point in the ongoing political tension between the United States and Russia, according to the Associated Press.
Russian lawmakers drafted the bill two weeks after President Barack Obama signed the Magnitsky Act, a law that condemns Russian citizens accused of violating human rights. The act denies visas to visit the United States and the right to own real estate there to alleged human rights violators, according to a statement made by the White House Press Secretary.
Professor of Russian language and literature Natallia Cherashneva said the Russian government passed the adoption ban in response to the act and criticizes the U.S. government for its own human rights violations, citing cases of Russian adoptions that have ended badly as evidence.
In 2010, a woman sent her adopted son back to Russia alone on a plane with a note indicating that he had behavioral problems and she no longer wanted to adopt him, Cherashneva said.
Some Russian lawmakers are unofficially calling the adoption ban the Dima Yakovlev Bill, after the 21-month-old Russian boy who died when his adoptive father left him in an unattended car for several hours in 2008, she said.
Cherashneva, who was formerly an exchange student from Belarus, said while she believes the Magnitsky Act was somewhat hypocritical, Russia’s response was much worse.
“When America passed the Magnitsky Act, they were trying to hurt the Russian side,” Cherashneva said. “But when Russia was trying to respond to this act, they were hurting themselves.”
She said although the ban affects a small number of Americans, it is detrimental to thousands of Russian orphans, as Americans have adopted more than 30,000 Russian children in the last decade, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.
Senior Kara Martin said she sympathizes with the families whose adoptions are in jeopardy. Martin is one-eighth Russian and said she had wanted to adopt a Russian child at some point in the future. She said she is skeptical that the Russian government’s concern about child safety was the primary reason for the ban.
“I don’t think it’s because of the kids.” Martin said. “Most American adoptions of Russian children go really well. It’s just an excuse.”
Martin said her Russian ancestry inspired her to minor in Russian and become the president of Russian Club. She said although she has spent a significant amount of time learning about Russian history, she is unsure how the ban will affect Putin’s political goals.
“I’m not really sure what Putin is doing,” Martin said. “He’s on a dictator track right now and that really worries me.”
Cherashneva said not all Russians are in favor of the ban, either. She said thousands of Russian citizens marched through Moscow in a mass protest on Jan. 13 and protesters have been calling for an end to Putin’s 12-year presidency. Cherashneva said the adoption law has garnered a significant amount of attention from Russians and Americans alike.
“I read news every day from Russian journals, and it sparked a lot of debates all over the media.” Cherashneva said. “This thing was a huge discussion.”
While the Russian government has said that it will take measures to encourage more adoptions within Russia and improve its orphanages, Cherashnev said many protesters see the ban as victimizing children for political gain.
Sophomore political science and Russian double major Dylan Lecce said he believes the Russian orphans are an innocent party caught up in a political game.
“There’s been sort of a macho game back and forth between the Americans and Russian federation,” Lecce said. “It’s unfortunate when people get caught up in the game of politics and they’re affected by it.”
Despite the political tension, Lecce said he believes the United States and Russia can repair their relationship.
Cherashneva said she believes the next step in the issue will depend on action by the United States.
“What’s going to be the U.S.’s response to this response?” Cherashneva said. “That’s probably the key.”