Russian official calls to restrict foreign adoptions

Activists say plan would hurt kids

The Associated PressJuly 20, 2005 

A senior lawmaker called Tuesday for a moratorium on U.S. citizens adopting children from Russia -- a sharp escalation in a campaign against foreign adoptions triggered by a series of deaths of Russian children in the United States.

Yekaterina Lakhova, chairwoman of a parliamentary committee that oversees adoption legislation and a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, urged authorities to impose restrictions on countries where adopted children have been abused. She did not mention the United States by name but noted that 13 Russian children have been killed there in recent years.

In the most recent case, a Wake Forest woman was arrested earlier this month.

"When 13 children die in one country, ... I would make some statement and introduce a temporary period, a moratorium for that country," she told reporters.

Children's advocates assailed the initiative, saying that imposing a moratorium would harm those waiting to be adopted. "Lakhova is ready to sacrifice thousands of children, many of whom will die" without proper medical care, said Boris Altshuler, director of Russia's Right of the Child group.

He said that the figure of 13 children was minuscule compared with the estimated 2,000 children killed in Russia every year.

Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky disputed that, saying that 1,080 children have been killed in Russia since 2000, about 200 children per year.

Altshuler said most of the children who died in the United States were adopted via individual brokers as opposed to foreign adoption agencies that operate with official accreditation and oversight. He said he supported enforcing stricter controls or even imposing a moratorium over such "independent" adoptions.

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