Despite a wave of criticism from civil society groups and members of the Russian government, the Russian Orthodox Church has backed the controversial 'anti- Magnitsky bill' that President Vladimir Putin signed into law last Friday.
As of 1 January, the new law bans adoptions of Russian
children by US citizens.
new Russian law was adopted in response to a US law, the Magnitsky Act, which
imposes sanctions on Russian officials suspected of involvement in human rights
In 2009, lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow
prison under suspicious circumstances after exposing fraud involving the
Russian Interior Ministry.
Russian law was inspired by the case of Dima Yaklovev, a Russian-born toddler who
died after his US adoptive father forgot him in his car. A US court eventually
found the latter not guilty in the child's death.
The law also targets US-funded
Russian NGOs involved in political activities and foreigners involved in
violating the human rights of Russians abroad.
Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of
Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate, said the law was "a search
for a social answer to an elementary question: why should we give, and even
sell, our children abroad?"
Speaking to state news agency Interfax, Chaplin said the path to heaven would be closed to
children adopted by foreigners. "They won't get a truly Christian
the critics of the Russian Orthodox Church, its support for the law is the
latest example of its submission to the Kremlin, in which it acts more like a
government ministry than an independent spiritual body.
Kirill has not yet spoken on the matter since the controversy broke out. Once the
bill is signed into law by Putin, the patriarch said the Church would set aside
an unspecified amount of money to help orphans and family in difficulty.
by human rights defenders and even some ministers in the Russian government,
including Putin loyalist Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov, the law calls for an
improvement in the conditions of orphans. Incentives would be provided to
Russian couples to adopt.
the problem in Russia is cultural. Adoption is seen as something to hide. In addition,
only very young and healthy children are prized because of biases against alleged
"genetic defects" passed on by poor families.
anti-Magnitsky law also stops adoption procedures already underway. Fifty-two Russian
children ready to leave for the United States will thus remain in Russia.
The New York Times slammed the Russia law
for upending the plans of American couples in the final stages of adopting in
Already, it has cost many of them US$ 50,000 or more, at a wrenching
agency officials in the United States said there were about 200 to 250 sets of parents who had already identified children they planned to adopt and would be
estimates that there are about 740,000 children outside parental custody in
Russia whilst about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child.
The United States is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children-more
than 60,000 of them have been taken in by Americans over the past two decades.