The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act allows the U.S. President to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights abusers who kill, torture or violate the rights of human rights defenders, as well as government officials responsible for acts of significant corruption. The law and its various amendments that expanded its reach are at the heart of the sanctions currently being enforced against Russia. It was this law, and Russian efforts to blunt its force, that apparently was the real reason that Donald Trump Jr. was induced to meet with an indefinite number of Russians, Russian-Americans, and various individuals “connected” to the Russian government, the list of which is currently expanding like the roster of women allegedly raped by Bill Cosby.
The news media doesn’t seem to feel the Magnitsky Act is anything the public needs to know, perhaps because Donnie Jr. didn’t know much about it, if anything. The stories about his aborted meeting typically mention the Act briefly and without elaboration. They really don’t elaborate on Putin’s retaliation for the Act, which was to stop U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. (I wrote about this indefensible conduct by Russia at the time, in 2012. The post had a grand total of eight comments. Five years was too long to wait for an update, and I’m sorry. Of course, we are supposed to have responsible and competent professional journalists to keep us informed. )Russia had been one of the primary sources of foreign adoptions by childless U.S. parents before 2012, when the Russian strong man retaliated against loving U.S. parents to show his annoyance with our government and his support of corruption at home.
It’s worse than that, though. The real victims of Putin’s retaliation are his nation’s own, innocent, most vulnerable children. There is virtually no domestic adoption in Russia, because parents can’t afford the children the have. There are lots of orphans though, because parents can give up infants they can’t care for, and the government is quick to remove children it believes are abused or neglected. Unfortunately, once these children are warehoused, there is no way out. The orphanages are underfunded and over-crowded. Once the children “age out,” they are sent to live in hospitals, clinics and other Russian institutions ill-equipped to care for them, and eventually dumped out into the street, where they often are abused or turn to crime.
The situation is cruel and heartbreaking. My wife and I adopted our wonderful son in 1995 right before another adoption halt, that one based on a backlash against foreign adoption as an embarrassment to national pride. We saw the orphanages in person, and the beautiful, unwanted children clutching their shabby dolls and stuffed animals. The heroic and frustrated Russian operating the orphanages told us that most would never be adopted. As I have related here before, it took every bit of resolve I could muster not to bring home five, ten, twenty kids. I cut short one orphanage tour because I was crying.
I don’t think the average American citizen, and maybe not even U.S. journalists, realize that Putin’s retaliatory adoption ban is essentially an attack on Russian orphans, dooming them at the very outset of their lives to neglect and poverty. U.S. parents who can’t adopt in the U.S. for various reasons (that’s another ethics issue) will go to China, Vietnam, the nation of Georgia, or South America to find an orphan. Russia’s orphans have no options. Putin is using his nation’s homeless and unwanted children as hostages. Now you know.
It would be nice, don’t you think, if the news media in this country told that story? There’s even an opportunity to give it an anti-Trump spin. Why has the President said anything favorable about a leader who uses orphans as bargaining chips?
My guess is that he doesn’t understand the Russian adoption situation either. Any bets? Has Fox News ever covered it?