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Russian Dissidents Mobilize Against 'Herod's Law'

If anyone needed more proof that Russia’s current “Parliament” is neither a legitimate nor a representative body—beyond the mass fraud in last year’s election and the largest protest rallies in two decades—it came during the passage of the anti-orphan bill in both houses of the Federal Assembly. The bill, initiated by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in response to US visa and financial sanctions on corrupt officials and human rights violators from Russia, would ban all adoptions of Russian children by American families, thus denying thousands of orphans a second chance in life. It has been popularly dubbed the “Law of the Scoundrels” and “Herod’s Law.”

A recent poll by Tiburon Research found that Russian public opinion on the issue is split: 52 percent support a ban on US adoptions (the relentless propaganda in the state media is not without consequences), while 43 percent are against. One would not know it, however, from the votes of the “people’s representatives”: the anti-orphan bill was approved by 420 deputies of the State Duma (lower house) and 143 members of the Federation Council (upper house). Respectively, that’s 93 percent and 86 percent of the total number of legislators. In fact, lawmakers did their best to emphasize contempt for public opinion: a petition against the new law containing 100,000 signatures (collected by the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper in a record two days), which was delivered to the Duma on the day of the final vote, has been scheduled to be considered in mid-January—long after the law has been signed and taken effect.

Meanwhile, Novaya Gazeta has launched a new petition drive—this time, with the demand for the dissolution of the illegitimate Duma and for new parliamentary elections. The goal is to collect 500,000 signatures by February 1st and hand them over to Putin and to the Central Electoral Commission. “Deputies have ignored 100,000 signatures. With 500,000 signatures, it is the deputies who will be ignored,” noted the newspaper’s editorial. Even before then, on January 13th, thousands of Russians will march through the streets of Moscow protesting against the anti-orphan bill and demanding the dissolution of the Duma. The march is expected to draw not only Kremlin critics, but also the usually apolitical citizens disgusted with the regime’s retaliation against children.

This issue, indeed, is not about politics. It is about basic human decency.

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