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US Ambassador Criticizes Russian Adoption Law

A woman opposing a bill that would ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans holds a sign reading 'Give the children a chance to live' during a picket at the entrance of the State Duma, in Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2012.
The U.S. Ambassador to Russia has criticized a new bill that would ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans.

Ambassador Michael McFaul said Friday he is concerned about a measure that would link the welfare of children to unrelated issues.

Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament, passed the bill Friday in its third and final reading by a vote of 420-7. It now goes to the upper house of parliament for approval. The bill is seen as retaliation for a U.S. law that imposes sanctions on Russian officials suspected of human rights violations.

Moscow Human Rights Watch Deputy Director Rachel Denber told a reporter Friday it is "not surprising" that there is political retribution for the U.S. law, known as the Magnitsky Act. But she said it is "shocking" that Russian lawmakers are putting the well-being of children at risk. She said the law would limit the options for children in Russian orphanages.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the State Duma's move is an "emotional" response to the new U.S. law. He said he would consider signing the bill only after seeing the final text.

Some analysts expect Putin to make changes to the bill before signing it into law.

The Russian bill is named after Dima Yakovlev, a Russian boy who died in 2008 after his adoptive family left him locked in a car for several hours on a hot day.

The new U.S. law is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in prison in 2009 after exposing an official corruption ring involved in the embezzlement of $250 million in tax money. The legislation is designed to target Russian officials involved in Magnitsky's detention, abuse or death.

The Magnitsky Act was approved as part of legislation that lifted trade restrictions on Russia dating back to the Cold War era.