“Anti-child law” shows moral bankruptcy of the government
Protests against the anti-U.S. adoption law (the Dima Yakovlev Law) took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Valdai International Discussion Club publishes a comment by Vladimir Ryzhkov, historian and liberal politician, co-chair of political party «RPR-PARNAS»
Three of the adopted law’s sections concern American citizens. The first prohibits certain Americans from entering Russia and provides for the seizure of any assets owned in Russia if the authorities deem them guilty of violating human rights. Obviously, this provision of the law is meaningless because no American is desperate to travel to Russia or acquire assets here. The third section suspends the activities of American NGOs and their Russian counterparts that receive funding from US sources. This is the same old tune we’ve been hearing for over a year. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has already been shut down and a number of other organizations are leaving Russia.
Now a section on adopting children has been added to the law that affects hundreds and thousands of orphans and disabled children who have no chance of being adopted in Russia, or receiving proper medical care and treatments for chronic and congenital diseases. Children have become a political football, a bargaining chip. This cynical and immoral law dooms thousands of children to a slow death and denies them a family and parental affection. This section naturally has caused a public uproar.
The first demand, voiced at a rally on January 13, was to abolish the anti-child law and give these children a chance of family and health both inside and outside the country. There is a presumption of children’s rights in international agreements. Nothing is more important than children’s rights. Everything else is secondary.
The second, political demand is to disband the sixth State Duma that adopted this and other laws that we consider unconstitutional – the laws on rallies and demonstrations, foreign agents, and high treason, not to mention the recent “anti-Magnitsky act.” We believe that the current composition of the Duma is the result of widespread fraud and that United Russia did not actually win a majority of seats.
These demands are logically connected. A legitimate parliament would not have passed such a law, and an illegitimate parliament that passes unconstitutional laws must be disbanded and new elections must be held. There is no contradiction in these demands.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Education Dmitry Livanov have expressed opposition to the anti-child law, but the State Duma and the Kremlin have ignored them, as they have ignored those who took to the streets.
We will be accused of fighting for American interests. But we know exactly who we’re fighting for – children who have already suffered enough, children without parents, many of whom are seriously ill. We are looking out for their interests. We don’t give a damn what our heartless political opponents say.
The opposition forces are united in this cause. Two parties, RPR-PARNAS and Yabloko, openly supported the January 13 rally. Duma deputies who voted against this law, such as Ilya Ponomaryov and Dmitry Gudkov, took part. Most important, the rally has consolidated civil society in Russia. Many people, including those who went to Bolotnaya and Sakharova squares, noted that on January 13 they met many newcomers who had never attended a protest before the passage of the anti-child law. A total of 50,000 to 60,000 took part in the rally. I say this as someone who has experience organizing large demonstrations.
I predict the law pushed through by Putin and United Russia will have disastrous consequences for the government. This law lays bare their political and moral bankruptcy. A government that takes its anger out on helpless children is no longer legitimate. The millions of people who took to the streets of Russia’s major cities now know this. In a year the entire country will know. So far the government has turned a deaf ear to what is happening. I can only hope mass demonstrations will lead to a reevaluation of the law.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.