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The "anti-Magnitsky" law banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans came into force on January 1. In late 2012, lawmaker Robert Shlegel /United Russia faction/ brought forward an amendment according to which the law does not apply to handicapped children, but United Russia said Shlegel might revoke his initiative. Experts note that certain lawmakers would be trying to ease the image risks for themselves, but that the authorities are not ready to make adjustments to the law.
On December 28, President Vladimir Putin signed the document banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens, as response to the USA's "Magnitsky Act," and on January 1, the law became effective, the Kommersant reminds. The head of state explained that there are enough countries in the world where the standard of living is better than in Russia: "So what? Are we sending all children there? Perhaps, we'll move there ourselves?" On the same day, the president signed the decree "on certain measures to implement the state policy in the sphere of protecting orphans and the children left without parental care."
Under the document, the government should ensure, before February 15, the support of the Russians who plan to adopt orphans, and streamline the child adoption procedure (by decreasing the norm of living space per person) and the amount of accountability paperwork for adoptive parents.
By March 1, the government should submit the bills on tax incentives for adoptive parents and on raising the social pension for handicapped children to 8,704 roubles per month. The newspaper notes that the increase is insignificant from the current sum of 5,124 roubles per month.
According to deputy speaker of the State Duma Sergei Neverov, the United Russia faction is already drawing amendments towards the implementation of the decree. Meanwhile, lawmaker Robert Shlegel brought forward a proposal to the State Duma to exempt disabled children from the operation of the law. In an explanatory note, he stated that there are some 45,000 such children in specialized institutions and that complete U.S. adoption ban "implies that certain disabled children will probably be unable to find an adoptive family and will not receive the necessary medical care." "In 2011, U.S. families adopted 44 handicapped children; at present, the necessary procedures are underway to adopt another 46 children, who might be deprived of the chance to gain a family because of the ban."
In 2011, Americans adopted 956 children, and despite an overall decrease in U.S. adoptions in the past seven years, the number of adopted handicapped children has not decreased, which indicates that Russian families do not take them. Of 14,500 orphans taken to the USA during this period, 444 were handicapped.
Robert Shlegel told the Kommersant that it was "premature" to talk about the chances for approval of the amendment, because neither the faction nor the dedicated committee had discussed the issue yet.
He explained that "he saw no reason" to come out with the initiative earlier, because "there was a great number of amendments and it was unclear whether the law would be approved in this or that form or whether the Federation Council would approve it."
Deputy Secretary General of United Russia's General Council Olga Batalina noted that the faction "will consider" the amendment if Mr Shlegel did not revoke it, because in her opinion, there was such a possibility.
"I've not yet thought about revoking it, but if an option to resolve the problem is found, I do not rule /it/ out; because is not the amending that's important but the solution of children's problems," Mr Shlegel told the Kommersant.
Political scientist Mikhail Vinongradov says Shlegel's amendment is unlikely to be passed. "Certain deputies will be trying to ease the impact from the situation personally for themselves, because they carry image risks," he believes, "but there is no political readiness to make adjustments to the tough position."
United Russia insides do not rule out that Robert Shlegel will revoke the amendment which exempts the handicapped orphans from the "anti-Magnitsky" law," the Vedomosti writes. Deputy Secretary of United Russia's General Council Olga Batalina believes there is a possibility that Shlegel would revoke the amendment.