MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin says a draft bill banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children is a legitimate response to a new U.S. law that calls for sanctions on Russians deemed to be human rights violators. But he has not committed to signing it.
He says the measure, which received overwhelming preliminary approval in parliament, is also a response to an alleged U.S. failure to protect the rights of adopted Russian children.
Speaking at his annual marathon news conference Thursday, Putin said while most Americans who adopt Russian children are "kind and honorable," the protection for abuse victims is insufficient.
The bill faces a few more steps before it can reach Putin.
"I will make a decision depending on what is written there," he said.
The proposed adoption ban was added Wednesday as an amendment to a bill retaliating for the U.S. law. Several top officials, including Russia's foreign minister, spoke out against the proposal.
Putin's noncommittal response on whether he would sign it, along with his assessment of it as appropriate, gives legislators the chance to posture over Russia's wounded national pride but may allow him to avoid actions that would further trouble Moscow-Washington relations.
The Russian president previously had lashed out against the U.S. law.
Many Russians have been angered by cases of adopted children who have died or suffered abuse at the hands of their adopted parents. They also complain that U.S. courts have been lax about punishing abusers.
The Russian measure is named after toddler Dima Yakovlev, who died in 2008 after being left for hours in a car in the broiling heat. His adoptive American father was acquitted of charges of involuntary manslaughter.
"When tragedies happen, the U.S. judicial system doesn't react to that and avoids punishing the perpetrators. And Russian observers are barred from attending those trials," Putin said.