Russia Firms Up into Law Prohibiting Americans from Adopting Russian Children

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 17, 2013 8:16 PM EST

Angered by President Obama's actions when he signed into law a decree that punishes Russian human rights violators, Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliated by signing a bill that bars Americans from adopting Russian children. The tirade has left caught in the middle some more than 50 Russian children who were about to go on adoption by American families.

The bill, which overwhelmingly passed both houses of Russian parliament, spent no longer than 24 hours to be signed and stamped OK to go by Mr Putin.

The law which became effective January 1, likewise, ordered the closure of non-governmental organizations receiving American funding, immediately bursting whatever hope for the 52 children who were in the pipeline for U.S. adoption.

The decree expectedly angered Americans, and ironically, also Russians.

"The king is Herod," the Huffington Post quoted Oleg Shargunov, a popular writer, on his Twitter account. The reference was to biblical character Herod, then Roman-appointed king of Judea, who according to the Bible at the time of Jesus Christ's birth, ordered the murder of Jewish children to avoid being replaced by a prophesied newborn king of the Jews.

Angry American and Russian observers said the Mr Putin's actions was borne out of an awkward political point, citing lives of children were left at stake in the middle of the feud.

According to data by the UNICEF, about 740,000 children are not in parental custody in Russia while 18,000 Russians remain on the waiting list to adopt a child.

Patrick Ventrell, U.S. State Department spokesman, meanwhile urged Russia to "allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parents to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families."

Most of adopted Russian children land in the U.S., of which over the past two decades about more than 60,000 have been taken in by Americans.

In December, President Obama enacted into law a decree that penalizes Russians judged to be human rights violators. The passing of the law was triggered by the case of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, arrested after accusing officials of a $230 million tax fraud. Reports said he was denied medical treatment and died in 2009 in jail. Russian rights groups claimed he was severely beaten.

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