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US Hopeful Pending Russian Adoptions Can Continue

One-year-old Artur and his two-year-old brother Mark (not pictured) were brought to a local hospital in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarskl by the police due to neglect by their parents. They are currently waiting to be put up for adoption, March 23, 2011.
The United States says it is "very hopeful" that pending adoptions of Russian children to U.S. parents can be completed as planned, despite passage of a Russian law recently passed to ban the practice.

Russia said on Thursday it will allow a bilateral adoption agreement with the United States to remain valid for the next year.

The State Department spokeswoman said Thursday the U.S. will be working with Russia on completing adoptions cases already in progress, "out of humanitarian concern." She said it is unclear how many such cases there are and that the U.S. and Russian governments must compare notes to clarify.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law banning Americans from adopting Russian children in what was widely viewed as a retaliatory measure against U.S. passage of the Magnitsky Act.

The Magnitsky Act imposes a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in jail in 2009, after alleging officials were involved in a multi-million-dollar tax scam.