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Rep. Israel pressures Putin to lift ban on Russian adoptions

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With little headway made at the negotiating table, elected officials from the state and federal levels started putting the pressure on the Russian government to lift its ban on adoptions.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) brought the issue to the public when he used the story of one Little Neck couple to illustrate what hundreds of other families across the country have been forced to endure.

For months, Nick and Dania Mavros have struggled through a hefty legal battle with hopes of bringing home a year-old boy named Ari. But because of an international dispute, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a ban on Russian adoptions for American citizens.

Because his initial calls to end the ban were not being answered, Israel said he planned a sitdown with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak and members of Congress to urge a reversal of the ban.

And if need be, the congressman did not fail to mention he would consider proposing economic, military and commercial cuts to Russian aid coming out of the United States.

“Innocent children like Ari and the hundreds of other children who were in the process of being adopted should never be used as political pawns,” Israel said. “I urged the ambassador to call on his government to reverse this law and work with the United States to allow the Russian children who were in the process of being adopted to proceed with the adoption process and unite with their adoptive parents.”

Israel said Putin signed the ban into law Dec. 28 as a retaliatory move in response to a new American law known as the Magnitsky Act, which limits Russians accused of human rights violations from entering the United States. The ban has since left nearly 1,000 open adoption cases, including that of the Mavros family, at the mercy of the political dispute.

In an effort to at least achieve some degree of success for those who have already gone through the lengthy process of filing adoption papers, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the Russian government to lift the ban and make way for those open cases who were on record before the law went into effect Jan. 1.

“Allowing adoptions that have already begun to go forward is the best thing to do for both the families and the children,” Schumer said. “Our two countries need to work out a longterm solution to ease this ban, but in the short term we need to ensure a way that these parents, who have already met and formed a real connection with their children, can bring them back to the United States.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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