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Russian children’s rights commissioner: Only Italy can adopt Russian children

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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MOSCOW — Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights says that currently only Italy matches the two main criteria for adoption of Russian children – a bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation and a ban on same-sex marriage.

Pavel Astakhov told Russian media outlets Friday that the Russian government would not allow adoptions to families in countries that do not have bilateral agreements on the issue with the Russian Federation, and that he saw no change to this policy.

Russia TodayPavel Astakhov

Russia Today
Pavel Astakhov

Currently, only Italy has an active bilateral adoptions agreement, giving its citizens the right to adopt Russian children.

“This is not our fate. We have national adoption as a priority,” he said.

Astakhov’s remarks come on the heels of an inquiry by the European Court of Human Rights to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, acting on behalf of 23 American families who were denied the right to complete adoptions of their Russian children because of the Dima Yakovlev Law.

That law bans adoptions by American couples was passed last December by the federal Parliament and took effect January 1, 2013. It is informally named after a Russian orphan adopted by a family from Purcellville, Va., who died of a heat stroke after being left in a parked car for nine hours.

The law was also passed in partial retaliation for the American Magnitsky Act, which imposes a visa ban and asset freezes on Russians implicated in human rights violations.

A Russian Foreign Ministry diplomat for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Konstantin Dolgov, had answered the European Court’s inquiry last week saying that many of the children asked about had either been adopted by Russian citizens or returned to their biological parents.

Astakhov noted that Russia previously had a bilateral adoption agreements with the United States, but the agreement with the United States was canceled after Russian officials repeatedly complained that American authorities had barred Russian diplomats and law enforcement personnel from investigating alleged violations of the adopted children’s rights – ranging from cruel treatment to sometimes manslaughter, brought about by the Yakovlev case in particular.

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Astakhov added that Russia’s problems with the United States were unique to that nation.

“Such cases of pedophilia, violence and brutality as we have in America, we have nothing like that anywhere else,” he said.

An earlier signed agreement with France was was revoked after it officially legalized same-sex marriages earlier this year.

Astakhov said Russia would provide the children with the right to have a family but would not be held accountable before the European Court of Human Rights for the upholding of that right.

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