Putin spokesman says adoption pact will end in 2014, Russian news agency reports
Russia is third most-popular foreign country where Americans adopt
Russian law is likely a response to new U.S. restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia
The Russian law that bans adoptions by U.S. families will take effect in one year instead of this month, Russia’s semiofficial news agency RIA Novosti reported Thursday.
In late December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families. It was supposed to take effect January 1.
According to RIA Novosti, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Thursday the adoption agreement between the two countries had not expired.
“The agreement is in force at the moment,” he told the news agency. “It will be in force over the course of the year.”
The U.S. State Department said a termination clause in the agreement extends one year from the end of the agreement.
“So that would also take you to 2014,” department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “We are very hopeful that we will be able to complete the cases of adoption that had been begun before the law was passed. So that’s something that we will be working on with the Russian government.”
RIA Novosti said 46 such adoptions are under way. It was unclear whether any new cases would be approved.
“As you know, we have been seeking to have consultations with (the Russians) about the implementation of the law. So we will be inquiring of them how they see this,” Nuland said.
Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russian children last year, according to U.S. State Department figures.
Though the number has been dropping in recent years, Russia remains the third most-popular foreign country – after China and Ethiopia – for U.S. foreign adoptions.
The Russian measure also bars any political activities by nongovernmental organizations receiving funding from the United States if such activities could affect Russian interests, RIA Novosti said.
It also imposes sanctions against U.S. officials thought to have violated human rights.
The move is widely seen as retaliation for a bill that U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law on December 14. That law, called the Magnitsky Act, imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia.
The Magnitsky Act is named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the largest tax fraud in the country’s history in the form of rebates claimed by government officials who stole money from the state. Magnitsky was apparently beaten to death in 2009 after a year in a Moscow detention center.