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Russia gives initial OK to measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children

By Jim Heintz

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19 2012 11:00 a.m. MST

"Our deputies in the State Duma act absolutely like terrorists," said Oleg Orlov, head of the rights group Memorial. "They are fighting their external enemy — U.S. congressmen and senators, but .... take peaceful people as hostages: ourselves, the citizens of their own country, members of the civic movement, and children."

Civic organizations are likely to suffer in the provision on blocking U.S.-funded political organizations. A law passed this summer already requires non-governmental organizations that both receive funding from abroad and engage in political activity to register as "foreign agents;" as with the proposed new measure, a vague definition of what constitutes "political activity" could be used to crack down broadly.

The entire Russian retaliatory measure is being called the Dima Yakovlev bill, honoring a Russian-born toddler who died in the U.S. after his adoptive father left him in an automobile in the broiling heat for several hours. The father later was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The U.S. law, called the Magnitsky Act, stems from the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested after accusing officials of a $230 million tax fraud. He was repeatedly denied medical treatment and died in jail in 2009. Russian rights groups claimed he was severely beaten and accused the Kremlin of failing to prosecute those responsible.

The amended bill passed by the Duma on Wednesday also says any country that passes legislation similar to the Magnitsky Act also will be subject to an adoption ban.

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