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Russia Watch: The march of Moscow's silent majority?

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Jan. 20, 2013, 1:46 p.m. | Op-ed — by James Brooke

A protester holds a poster which reads: “Are orphans guilty of Magnitsky's death ? Stop putting shame on yourselves!” just outside the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, early on December 21, 2012, ahead of the debate on a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children. Russia sees the ban as retaliation for a US human rights law that allows the seizure of assets from Russian officials implicated in the 2009 death of a lawyer who blew the whistle on a $235 million police embezzlement scheme. AFP PHOTO / EVGENY FELDMAN
© AFP

 During my two-week vacation in the United States, American friends again and again looked at me intently, and then asked: How do Russians see the new ban on Americans adopting Russian children?

During the last three months of 2012, the Kremlin read out a steady drumroll of American and international organizations or programs expelled from Russia: USAID, NDI, IRI, UNICEF and Nunn-Lugar. But, for the Americans I talked to in New York and New England, the Kremlin’s clear anti-America message got lost in this murky alphabet soup.

The breakthrough came with the adoption ban. That put a human face on the Kremlin’s calculated xenophobia.

In simple terms, Russian politicians are sacrificing the futures of 1,000 Russian orphans – the number adopted by American parents last year – to make a political point.
Take that, America!

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