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Russian parliament considers anti-US adoption bill

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Dec. 26, 2012, 10:07 a.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Associated Press

A woman opposing a bill that would ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans holds a sign reading 'Give the children a chance to survive' during a picket at the entrance of the State Duma, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. The lower house of parliament takes a final vote on the measure Friday. Some top government officials oppose it, but President Vladimir Putin hasn't tipped his hand on whether he'd sign it into law.
© AP Photo

MOSCOW (AP) — Several protesters were detained Wednesday morning outside the upper chamber of Russia's parliament as it prepared to vote on a controversial measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

The bill was endorsed by the lower house last week and would be sent to President Vladimir Putin to sign if the Federation Council votes for it on Wednesday. It is one part of a larger measure by angry lawmakers retaliating against a recently signed U.S. law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators.

Some top government officials, including the foreign minister, have spoken flatly against the bill, arguing that the measure would be in violation with Russia's constitution and international obligations.

Several people with posters protesting the bill were detained outside the Federation Council Wednesday morning. "Children get frozen in the Cold War," one poster read.

The vote is expected in early afternoon.

Critics of the bill say it victimizes orphans by depriving them of an opportunity to escape often-dismal Russian orphanages. There are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted in the United States in the past 20 years.

The bill is named in honor of Dima Yakovlev, a Russian toddler who was adopted by Americans and then died in 2008 after his father left him in a car in broiling heat for hours. The father was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Russian lawmakers argue that by banning adoptions to the U.S. they would be protecting children and encouraging adoptions inside Russia.

Russian children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov told the Interfax news agency that 46 children who were about to be adopted by U.S. citizens would stay in Russia — despite court rulings in some of these cases authorizing the adoptions.

Astakhov also insisted that all adoptions would be halted once the bill is signed by Putin, but a senior lawmaker at the Federation Council insisted it cannot be enacted immediately.

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Council's foreign affairs committee, said that a bilateral Russian-U.S. agreement binds Russia to notify of a halt in adoptions 12 months in advance.

Putin hasn't committed to signing the bill but referred to it as a legitimate response to the new U.S. law.

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