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Statement by Ambassador Michael McFaul On Federal Law No 186614-6

December 21, 2012

We are very concerned by measures in Federal Law № 186614-6 passed by the Russian Duma today that would link the fate of orphaned children to unrelated political issues, as well deprive Russian civil society activists engaged in “political activities” of the ability to work with Americans of their choice.

We welcome Prime Minister Medvedev’s statement last week to encourage new initiatives to promote adoptions by Russian parents, and we appreciate President Putin’s comment yesterday that most American adoptive parents are kind and caring people.  American families, in fact, have welcomed more than 60,000 Russian children into their families over the past 20 years, many of whom are special needs children. We also deeply regret the deaths of 19 Russian adopted children in our country. It was in part out of our commitment to address these tragic deaths that we entered into negotiation with the Russian Federation on an adoptions agreement.

The U.S-Russia Agreement on inter-country adoptions was concluded to improve safeguards that protect adopted Russian children and their American families.  The Agreement was ratified by the Russian Duma on July 10, 2012 and by the Russian Federation Council on July 18, 2012. The Agreement came into effect November 1, only several weeks ago. It is unfortunate that now the Duma has apparently decided to take away these negotiated safeguards and ignore the hard work and negotiations on both sides that went into putting this agreement together.  If Russian officials have concerns about the Agreement’s implementation, we remain ready to work with them to improve it.

If it becomes law, the legislation passed today will needlessly remove the path to families for hundreds of Russian children each year. The welfare of children is simply too important to be linked to others issues in our bilateral relationship.

Additionally, we continue to have concerns about efforts by the Russian government to limit civil society’s contact with Americans.  Decades of partnership between Russians and Americans in a broad array of areas have been beneficial to both our countries and citizens.  We also have repeatedly made clear that our interaction with Russian civil society has always been non-partisan and transparent, and in the spirit of mutual respect and common interest.

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