Tens of thousands of petitioners are calling for US President Barack Obama to escalate the diplomatic feud that led Moscow to propose a law barring Americans from adopting Russian children.
Two petitions on the White House web site are asking for US sanctions on the Russian lawmakers who help pass the law that one of the petitions says will “jeopardize lives and well-being of thousands of Russian orphans.”
Moscow sees the ban on adoptions as retaliation for a US human rights law that allows the seizure of assets from Russian officials implicated in the 2009 death of a Russian lawyer who blew the whistle on a $235 million police embezzlement scheme.
Under the US law — dubbed the Magnitsky Act in tribute to the late lawyer — those same officials would also be barred from entering the United States.
More than 37,000 people have signed one of the petitions saying they are “outraged with the actions of Russian law-makers.”
According to the White House rules, there will be an official response if the petition reaches 25,000 signatures within 30 days.
These lawmakers “breached all imaginable boundaries of humanity, responsibility, or common sense and chose to jeopardize lives and well-being of thousands of Russian orphans, some of whom, the ill and the disabled ones, now might not have a chance of survival if the ban on international adoption is to be put in place,” the petition continues.
The petitioners “urge this Administration to identify those involved in adopting such legislature responsible under ‘Magnitsky Act’ and thus included to the relevant list.”
Likewise, a second petition, signed by more than 5,000 people, asks that the Magnitsky Act “be extended to supporters of this law in (the) Russian Duma.”
The Duma passed the adoption ban without debate in a quick 420-7 vote on Friday as protesters picketed the building demanding the measure be voted down.
The Kremlin-dominated upper house is now expected to approve the bill next Wednesday before passing it on to President Vladimir Putin for his signature.
The Russian leader has indicated he is ready to put his name on the measure so that it could enter law on January 1.
The measure, which underscores the severity of the recent strain in Russia-US ties, would end about 1,000 adoptions a year.
Caregivers in particular fear the new rules will hit the most disadvantaged children because foreign adoptive parents are often ready to adopt kids rejected by Russian families.