30 Dec 2012

Russian law bans US adoptions

9:56 am on 30 December 2012

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has signed into law a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

The legislation is part of Russia's retaliation against a US law that puts sanctions on Russian officials suspected of human rights violations, the BBC reports.

Some senior government officials in Moscow have warned the ban violates Russia's constitution and its international obligations, but supporters say it's necessary because some Russian children have faced abuse by the American families who adopted them.

In the past two decades Americans have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children.

Relations between Russia and the United States soured over the death of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in custody in Russia in 2009.

The lawyer worked for a London-based fund manager and had uncovered what he said was corruption involving Russian tax officials. He was then himself detained on suspicion of aiding tax evasion.

A Russian official report last year said he had been handcuffed and tortured in jail.

Efforts in the US to put pressure on Russia over the case were spearheaded by a US-born fund manager who ran Hermitage Capital Management, the company that employed Mr Magnitsky.

Earlier this month the US Congress adopted the Magnitsky Act, which blacklists Russian officials accused of rights abuses.