MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he will sign a controversial bill barring Americans from adopting Russian children, while the Kremlin’s children’s rights advocate recommended extending the ban to the rest of the world.
The bill is part of the country’s increasingly confrontational stance with the West and has angered some Russians who argue it victimizes children to make a political point.
The law would block dozens of Russian children now in the process of being adopted by American families from leaving the country and cut off a major route out of often-dismal orphanages. The U.S. 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.
“I still don’t see any reasons why I should not sign it,” Putin said at a televised meeting. He went on to say that he “intends” to do so.
UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia, while only 18,000 Russians are now waiting to adopt a child. Russian officials say they want to encourage more Russians to adopt Russian orphans.
Children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov on Thursday petitioned the president to extend the ban to other countries.
“There is huge money and questionable people involved in the semi-legal schemes of exporting children,” he tweeted.