RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children, making the legislation official less than 24 hours after his office received it from Parliament.
The bill has angered Americans and Russians who argue it victimises children to make a political point, cutting off a route out of frequently dismal orphanages for thousands of children.
UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia while about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child.
The law also blocks dozens of Russian children now in the process of being adopted by American families from leaving the country. The US 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.
The passage of the bill followed weeks of a hysterical media campaign on Kremlin-controlled television that lambasts American adoptive parents and adoption agencies that allegedly bribe their way into getting Russian children.
A few lawmakers claimed that some Russian children were adopted by Americans only to be used for organ transplants and become sex toys or cannon fodder for the US Army.