Dima Yakovlev’s death is one of the many cases of torture, rape, manslaughter and murder that adopted Russian children are alleged to have suffered at the hands of their adoptive parents in the United States in recent years. Since the early 1990s, according to Russian officials, at least 19 Russian children have been killed by their foster parents in the US.About 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by American couples the largest number of all those sharing adoption arrangements with Russia. Relations were strained when an adoptive mother put her 7-year-old son back on a plane to Russia saying he was no longer wanted, forcing a moratorium on adoptions in the US, until a new agreement on cross-border adoptions was signed in November 2012.
President Vladimir Putin slammed American authorities last week for their vindicatory reaction over Russian orphans dying in US foster families.
Russia has instituted a special post of the ombudsman for children’s rights. The man who currently occupies this position, Pavel Astakhov, is a staunch supporter of a total ban on foreign adoptions. The ombudsman reiterated his position this week saying that all Russian children must remain in Russia if it is possible, stating that the tragedies had most frequently occurred in the United States.
Astakhov also said that Russia must reply to the demonstratively unfriendly policy of the United States and the ban on adoption could be such a reply.
Russian human rights activist and Public Chamber member Olga Kostina however believes that the new legislation would hit decent foster families instead of targeting the officials who abuse their authority and transfer children for money.
Kostina believes that Russia’s response to the Magnitsky Act should only be noticeable by those politicians who introduced it and not the ordinary citizens and children.The Magnitsky Act, approved by the Senate on December 6 and signed by President Obama on December 14, imposes an entry ban and a freeze of US assets on a group of Russian MP’s, law enforcement and court officials who are allegedly complicit in the death of Sergey Magnitsky – an auditor who worked for a British investment fund and who died when he was put in pre-trial detention over a large-scale tax evasion scam. Up until his death Magnitsky claimed that a major fraud had been committed by corrupt officials.Two prison doctors were tried and sentenced for criminal negligence but a part of the US political and business community, led by Magnitsky’s former employer William Browder, have been pressing for more investigations and punishments. Browder is currently under investigation in Russia in the same tax evasion case.
Russia has repeatedly blasted the Magnitsky Act as an attempt to pressure justice in a sovereign country.
Last week Russia’s Lower House passed the retaliatory Dima Yakovlev bill in its first reading. It proposes denying Russian visas and freezing all financial assets of American citizens involved in the violations of the rights of Russians abroad.