20 years under Putin: a timeline

In response to the passage of the Magnitsky Act in the U.S., Russia’s authorities are introducing a blanket ban on adoptions of Russian children by American citizens. The Kremlin’s behavior has already been compared to that of the terrorists who use children as a “human shield.” According to IMR Senior Policy Advisor Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Putin regime is reaching a new level of turpitude.

 

 

It was long evident that the Kremlin’s reaction to the Magnitsky Act, which imposed U.S. visa and financial sanctions on corrupt Russian officials and human rights abusers, would be “asymmetrical”, and would be unlikely to involve banning American lawmakers and officials from keeping their savings in the Russian Sberbank. The “response” that was finally cooked up in Moscow’s corridors of power shocked even some of the regime’s own supporters – despite that fact that, during their 13-year rule, Vladimir Putin and his subordinates never gave reason to doubt their ability for immoral behavior.

On Wednesday, the Duma voted to approve the second reading of Bill # 186614-6, which prohibits adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens, and terminates the work of all American adoption agencies in Russia. The vote was 400 to 4. For historical record, those voting “against” were Dmitri Gudkov, Sergei Petrov, Ilya Ponomarev, and Valery Zubov.

In response to the U.S. travel ban on crooks, thieves and murderers, the regime decided to retaliate against Russian orphans who will be denied a chance for normal life.

First, some statistics: according to the official figures, there are more than 650,000 orphans and children without parental care registered in Russia. By the number of orphans per 10,000 children, this is the first place in the world. Conditions in Russian orphanages are well-known; they are sometimes compared to concentration camps.

In 2011, U.S. citizens held the top spot among all foreigners who adopted Russian children – including disabled children.

Since 1991, between 50,000 and 100,000 orphaned Russian children (according to different estimates) have been adopted by U.S. citizens. It is a terrible tragedy that 19 Russian children have died during this period in adoptive American families. It is also a terrible tragedy that more than 1,200 children have died in adoptive Russian families between 1991 and 2006.

In 2011, U.S. citizens held the top spot among all foreigners who adopted Russian children – including disabled children. For these kids, this is a second chance in life. Who knows how many of them could become a new Jessica Long or a new Tatyana McFadden?

 

While deputies were voting for the ban on adoptions, the police detained several protesters outside the Parliament building. This woman's placard reads “Do not deprive children of a future.”

 

This chance, however, no longer exists. As United Russia deputy Ekaterina Lakhova, one of the bill’s chief authors, bluntly put it, these children “will stay in Russia, in their motherland. And that’s that.” According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, another proponent of the ban, “millions of children dream of living in an orphanage.” The final word in the matter belonged to Vladimir Putin who, at his December 20 press conference, called the anti-orphan bill an “appropriate response.”

“Because some bureaucratic scum will not be allowed into the U.S. for shopping, thousands of tiny children will be denied a normal life.”

“Because some bureaucratic scum will not be allowed into the U.S. for shopping, thousands of tiny children will be denied a normal life,” wrote the usually reserved Grigory Yavlinsky, founder of the liberal Yabloko party. Bishop Panteleimon (Shatov) of Smolensk and Vyazma, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s Synodic Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry, spoke out against the ban, noting that “it is unacceptable to make decisions concerning children according to political convenience.” In just two days, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper collected more than 100,000 signatures against the new law. The opposition People’s Freedom Party, promised to “do everything to include the names of at least the main initiators of this law … to the Magnitsky List, and to ban their entry into the Schengen Agreement countries.”

The Russian blogosphere has dubbed the Kremlin’s initiative “the scoundrels’ law”; this hashtag entered the top five worldwide Twitter trends. Even some Kremlin loyalists voiced their criticism of the ban: Duma member Elena Mizulina (who did not take part in the vote) compared the authorities’ behavior with that of the terrorists who use children as a “human shield.” Some members of the current government, including Mikhail Abyzov, Olga Golodets, Sergei Lavrov, and Dmitri Livanov, cautiously spoke out against the ban on adoption.

The regime is reaching a new level of cruelty, turpitude, and inadequacy. It is not clear what the hopes (voiced in some quarters) that Putin would show “humanity” and veto the law at the last moment, were based on. After all, as the experts rightly point out, what “humanity” can be expected from a man who gave the order to fire at the school in Beslan?

Russia under Putin

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