Putin Hurts Russia's Orphans Out of Spite

The only ones who will suffer because of Russian President Vladimir Putin's ban on American families adopting Russian children are the orphans.

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One might think Congress takes the prize for cutting off the country's nose to spite its own face when lawmakers imposed a draconian series of budget cuts to take place if it didn't trim programs on its own. But Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the self-punishing to a new level.

Putin has signed a law barring U.S. citizens from adopting Russian orphans—not because Americans are taking away kids Russian nationals are willing and able to care for (which would be completely defensible), but because Putin doesn't like a relatively tame measure the American government has taken to protest corruption in Russia.

[See 2012: The Year in Cartoons.]

A Russian anti-corruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, had investigated and accused police of stealing $230 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Magnitsky himself was then jailed—accused of committing the same crimes he had charged police investigators with—then died in custody after an apparent beating. Adding to the scandal, Russian authorities are now prosecuting him posthumously.

The United States then took the relatively minor action of refusing entry into this country for anyone accused of being involved in Magnitsky's death. It's more symbolic than anything else, since it's a relatively small number of people who might not have had plans to come to America anyway. But Putin responded to the wrist-tap with a sledgehammer, depriving needy children of the chance to grow up in an actual home. These are not celebrity adoptions—these are cases where children who otherwise would grow up in bleak orphanages would have homes and parents. If there were Russian families who were eager and able to take on the burden, it would be understandable for Russian authorities to put the brakes on international adoptions. But this action is punishment out of spite—and worse, it punishes most only those children who need a family.

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