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Russia's adoption ban exposes political rift (+video)

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"This whole discussion over the adoption ban has served the purpose of shifting public attention from the corrupt Russian officials targeted under the US Magnitsky Act to the problems of orphans and the dangers they face in foreign homes," says Nikolai Petrov, an expert with the Moscow Carnegie Center.

"It's perfectly possible that Putin will ultimately adjust the adoption ban, but leave in place many of the other tough measures in this bill that haven't gotten much attention," Mr. Petrov says. Those measures include even harsher restrictions that would prevent any US passport holder from holding a leadership post in any Russian organization that is deemed by authorities to engage in politics.

The adoption ban has also become the focus of controversy and prompted a rare government split inside Russia. This week a liberal radio station leaked news of a memo by Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets warning that the proposed ban would violate Russian law and at least two treaties that Russia is party to. It would also overturn a bilateral accord on adoptions, negotiated between the United States and Russia, which came into force last month.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov have also spoken out against the antiadoption bill. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, voiced annoyance that the government’s internal disagreements were being aired in public, but still signaled support for the measure.

"Learning about official correspondence from the media is not always pleasant," Mr. Peskov told the Kommersant FM radio station yesterday. But "it would be a mistake to think that there is staunch opposition to the bill within government. On the contrary, there are many arguments in favor of it," he said.

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