MOSCOW (AP) — A blind Russian high-schooler's impassioned criticism of the ban on adoption by Americans has added a new and compelling voice to the chorus of condemnation of the law.
Since her Jan. 6 blog entry complaining about the ban, written as an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, Natasha Pisarenko has attracted the wide attention of Russian media and, she fears, drawn the disapproving notice of authorities.
The adoption ban, which went into effect Jan. 1, is one of the most controversial moves of the first year of Putin's third term in the Kremlin. It was enacted as part of a bill retaliating for a new U.S. law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
But critics say it punishes innocent children by denying them a chance of escaping Russia's often-dismal orphanages. Around 20,000 people held a protest march against the measure in Moscow on Sunday that included banners likening Putin to King Herod, whom the Bible says ordered the massacre of Jewish male infants.
Pisarenko wrote sarcastically that by signing the law, Putin was "saving children from American evil" and said that Russians rarely adopt disabled children because the country's medical system is backward and can't take care of them.
"They die because Russia doesn't have modern medicine," she wrote.
Pisarenko, blind from birth, writes that she has painful personal experience with Russia's medical inadequacy. She says that although her father detected her blindness within days of her birth, Russian doctors were unable to diagnose it for months. But, she says, she received precise diagnosis and the hope of treatment from German and American doctors.