On January 18, Russia’s Ombudsman for children, Pavel Astakhov, and Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated that they would seek an official moratorium on adoption of Russian children by American families. Cooperation on adoption between the two countries has seen its ups and downs following the pattern of U.S. -Russia relations, but the public discourse on international adoption has also served as a tool of Russian domestic policy to strengthen control over Russians and to spread anti-American attitudes. As a result, the discourse is rarely focused on creating constructive policies that can address problems persisting in the international adoption process.
The announcement is very likely to revive public discourse on the abuse of adopted Russian children in the United States. The timing is not coincidental as a new wave of blameful declamations is preceding the upcoming presidential election in Russia. Once again Russian authorities seek to use old tools and practices in strengthening national unity by pitting ‘us’ – Russians against ‘them’- foreigners via offensive adoption rhetoric.
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[M]edia-promoted public discourse on international adoption serves as a very effective pre-election tool that conveniently diverts attention from the existing everyday problems. It serves to create an ‘outside enemy,’ while seeking to bolster unity among Russian people and to position Vladimir Putin as a strong leader of the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ community.
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