Russia ban on US adoption clears parliament
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's upper house of parliament Wednesday unanimously backed a bill barring Americans from adopting Russian children, leaving the controversial measure in the hands of President Vladimir Putin.
The rubber-stamp hearing cleared the last legislative hurdle for a bill representing one of the toughest pieces of anti-US legislation to emerge during Mr Putin's 13 years in charge.
The Russian strongman has expressed sympathy for the measure - drafted in retaliation for a new law sanctioning Russian officials implicated in the prison death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 - without explicitly committing to signing it. The bill has passed the three required readings in the State Duma lower house despite protests from rights advocates, the United Nations and even the Russian foreign ministry.
Russian actor Konstantin Khabensky underlined the unease in Russia about the law by appearing next to Mr Putin during a Kremlin awards ceremony wearing a button reading "Keep children outside politics." The ceremony occurred moments before the Federation Council - made up exclusively of Putin allies and ruling party members - passed the measure in a 143-0 vote after speakers took turns decrying US policies towards Russia.