Protesters have taken to the streets of Moscow to voice anger over a Kremlin decision that bars US citizens from adopting children. Protesters accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of using orphans as political pawns.
Thousands turned out for the rally - billed the “March against Scum” – despite freezing temperatures in the Russian capital.
Those taking part held banners bearing the word "Shame" above photographs of politicians who voted in favor of the law. Among the chants heard during the protest were "Russia without Putin!" and "Putin is a child-killer!"
Police reported that up to 9,500 people took part, while eyewitnesses said at least 40,000 were present.
Protesters accused Putin of introducing the law for his own political ends, saying the children would be the ones to suffer.
"Without adoption, such children have no chance," protest organizer Dmitry Belkov told the Reuters news agency.
Named after boy who died
The "Dima Yakovlev" law was unanimously passed by Russia's upper and lower houses of parliament. The legislation was named after a Russian boy who died when his adoptive American father left him locked in a sweltering car. It was introduced in reaction to a US law - the Magnitsky Act - to sanction Russian officials suspected of involvement with human rights violations.
The US law was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who had been investigating corruption in the Interior Ministry who died in a Moscow jail in 2009.
Russian lawmakers said their ban was justified by the deaths of 19 Russian-born children who had been adopted by American parents.
rc/dr (dpa, Reuters)