Call for a Freeze on U.S. Adoptions

Date: 2005-07-20
Source: Moscow times

A senior State Duma deputy urged authorities Tuesday to impose a moratorium on U.S. citizens adopting children from Russia, following a series of deaths of Russian children in the United States.

Yekaterina Lakhova, chairwoman of a parliamentary committee that oversees adoption legislation, urged restrictions on countries where adopted Russian children have been abused.

She did not mention the United States by name, instead noting only that 13 Russian children had been killed there in recent years. "When 13 children die in one country, ... I would make some statement and introduce a temporary period, a moratorium with that country," she said at a news conference.

She did not specify the time period for the 13 deaths, but the number does not correspond with official figures.

In the most recent case of abuse, a North Carolina woman was arrested in early July on charges of fatally beating a 2-year-old Russian girl she had recently adopted. Earlier this year, an Illinois woman was sentenced to 12 years for the death of her 6-year-old son just weeks after he was adopted from Russia.

The U.S Embassy said it would issue a statement later.

Children's rights advocates assailed Lakhova's initiative, saying that imposing a moratorium would harm thousands of Russian children waiting to be adopted. "Lakhova is ready to sacrifice thousands of children, many of whom will die" without proper medical care, said Boris Altshuler, director of the Right of the Child advocacy group.

Altshuler also said that the figure of 13 children was minuscule compared with the estimated 2,000 children who are killed in Russia every year.

Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky told reporters that about 200 children were killed each year.

Altshuler said most of the children who died in the United States were adopted via individual brokers, over which authorities have no control.

Speaking at the same news conference, Fridinsky accused foreign adoption agencies of giving bribes and using illegal middlemen to speed up the process. He said foreign parents were getting an illegal advantage over Russian citizens wanting to adopt and that Russians should be guaranteed priority.

He also said prosecutors had sent a request to the United States for information about the recent death of the 2-year-old girl.

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