U.S. 'Deeply Regrets' Signing of Russia Adoption Law

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The United States on Friday expressed deep regret after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a tough anti-U.S. adoption law, and said it hoped adoption cases already under way would not be affected.

"We deeply regret Russia's passage of a law ending inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement, decrying the move as "politically motivated".

The law -- retaliation for a U.S. law punishing Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of the whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky -- will come into force on January 1, the Kremlin announced.

The highly contentious measure is seen as the toughest piece of anti-U.S. legislation during Putin's 13-year rule and has prompted objections not just from Russian activists but even some cabinet ministers in Moscow.

Veteran Republican senator John McCain called the legislation -- which also bans Russian NGOs that have members with U.S. citizenship or financing from the United States -- "shameful and appalling."

The law could leave in limbo the fate of dozens of Russian children awaiting adoption by prospective American parents. It effectively bans them from leaving the country for their new lives.

Ventrell said Washington hopes Moscow will "allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parents to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families."

The Russian law will also "make it more difficult for Russian and American non-governmental organizations to cooperate in areas as diverse as human rights advocacy, open government, and electoral transparency," Ventrell said.

"The United States remains committed to supporting the development of civil society and the democratic process around the world, including in Russia."

Over the past 20 years, U.S. families have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children, Ventrell said, "and the vast majority of these children are now thriving thanks to their parents' loving support."

"The Russian government's politically motivated decision will reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care," he said.

McCain said in a statement that any comparison between the Russian law and the U.S. legislation punishing Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky's death was "utterly baseless", as the U.S. measure targeted specific human rights offenders.

"I often wonder how much lower the Russian government under President Putin can stoop," McCain said.

"But to punish innocent babies and children over a political disagreement between our governments is a new low, even for Putin's Russia."

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