MOSCOW — Defying a storm of domestic and international criticism, Russia moved toward finalizing a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, as Parliament's upper house voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a measure that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign into law.
All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has sparked criticism from both the U.S. and Russian officials, activists and artists, who say it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape the squalor of orphanage life. The vote comes days after Parliament's lower house overwhelmingly approved the ban.
The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it regretted the Russian parliament's decision.
"Since 1992, American families have welcomed more than 60,000 Russian children into their homes, providing them with an opportunity to grow up in a family environment," spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement from Washington. "The bill passed by Russia's parliament would prevent many children from enjoying this opportunity ...
"It is misguided to link the fate of children to unrelated political considerations," he said.
Seven people with posters protesting the bill were detained outside the Council before Wednesday's vote. "Children get frozen in the Cold War," one poster read. Some 60 people rallied in St. Petersburg, Russia's second largest city.
The measure has become one of the most debated topics in Russia.
By Tuesday, more than 100,000 Russians had signed an online petition urging the Kremlin to scrap the bill.
Over the weekend, dozens of Muscovites placed toys and lit candles in front of the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament after it approved the bill on Friday, but security guards promptly removed them. Opposition groups said they will rally against the bill on Jan. 13, and several popular artists publicly voiced their concern about the legislation.
While receiving a state award from Putin on Wednesday, film actor Konstantin Khabensky wore a badge saying "Children Are Beyond Politics."
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