There is very little doubt as to the goal of the legislation, which passed its third and final reading in the lower house of parliament Friday and must still be signed by Putin. The bill is named after Dima Yakovlev, the toddler who died of heat stroke in 2007 after his adopted father forgot him in a locked car in Virginia for nine hours. The father, Miles Harrison, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Dima, whose adopted name was Chase. His acquittal in 2008 sparked banner newspaper headlines, incendiary TV news reports, and howls of outrage in Russia.
Lawmakers in the State Duma made it clear that today's legislation is a direct response to the US “Magnitsky Act,” a law designed to sanction a particular group of Russian officials connected to the death of a whistle-blowing lawyer in a Moscow prison.
In other words, a law designed to punish people tied to a lawyer’s prison death has been answered with a law to prevent people from adopting orphaned children, many of whom have have developmental or other disabilities and will otherwise end up living much of their lives in orphanages that often resemble state mental hospitals of a bygone era.
Adoption is a searingly emotional issue for Russians, and one easily manipulated by the Kremlin. The institution of adoption is relatively uncommon in Russia, for cultural and other reasons. And judging by headlines in the Moscow tabloids, and the rhetoric of some state lawmakers, you’d think that Americans adopt Russian children to eat them.