US expresses concern over Russia's adoption bill
Washington: The United States has expressed concern over a bill passed by the Russian Duma, which if becomes law, would halt inter-country adoptions between the US and Russia.
"The United States is concerned by measures in the bill passed by the Russian Duma today that, if it becomes law, would halt inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia and restrict the ability of Russian civil society organisations to work with American partners," State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
American families have welcomed more than 60,000 Russian children into American homes over the past 20 years, he said adding that just last month, they implemented a Bilateral Adoptions Agreement with Russia to improve safeguards for adopted children and their families.
"If Russian officials have concerns about the implementation of this agreement, we stand ready to work with them to improve it and remain committed to supporting inter-country adoptions between our two countries. The welfare of children is simply too important to be linked to political aspects of our relationship," Ventrell said.
The State Department spokesman also expressed concern about efforts to limit Russian civil society's contact with American partners.
"Decades of cooperation between Russian and American nongovernmental organisations in a broad array of areas have been beneficial to both our countries and citizens," he said.
"We have repeatedly made clear that our interaction with Russian civil society has always been nonpartisan and transparent and in the spirit of mutual respect and common interest," Ventrell said.
"What's particularly concerning here is, in this present legislation, what the Russians are doing is effectively preventing children from growing up in a family environment of happiness, love, and understanding. And so that's the basic premise of our Bilateral Adoption Agreement.
It's something we've worked for many months with the Russians on. So, really, it's Russian children who would be harmed by this measure," he said in response to a question.