Putin backs disputed US adoption ban

Updated 21 December 2012
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Putin backs disputed US adoption ban

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin yesterday backed tough pending legislation making it illegal for Americans to adopt Russian children in reprisal for a new Washington human rights law.
But in his first major press conference of his third term as president, he also denied running an “authoritarian system” in which all branches of power and most facets of society closely followed the dictates of Kremlin rule.
The highly controversial draft legislation would end around 1,000 adoptions a year and comes as a grim reminder of the rapid deterioration in Russia-US relations since Putin’s election in March.
The bill also includes a clause that bans any Russian non-government organizations involved in politics that receives funding from the United States.
The State Duma lower house of Parliament is due to vote on the bill in its final reading today before it passes to the upper chamber and then for the president’s signature.
Even senior government members such as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov came out against the measure and some media commentators had expected Putin to show off his rarely-seen humanitarian streak by watering down the measure at the press conference.
But the Russian strongman indicated that he would sign the adoption ban into law.
“I understand that this was an emotional response by the State Duma, but I think that it was appropriate,” Putin told the first major press conference of his third term as president.
“I have not seen the law yet. I do not know its details — I have not seen the text,” he explained in response to another question.
“But yes, I have said I support it. The only question is how exactly it will look.”
His comments came as the latest reminder of the chilling in relations between former Cold War foes Russia and the US since Putin returned to the Kremlin for his third term earlier this year.
Much of the latest mistrust stems from Putin’s often-repeated belief that Washington was responsible for inciting mass protests last winter against the former KGB agent returning to Russia’s top office.


Blast at election center in Afghan capital, at least six hurt

Updated 38 min 2 sec ago
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Blast at election center in Afghan capital, at least six hurt

KABUL: An explosion apparently caused by a suicide bomber hit a voter registration center in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday, causing casualties, with at least six people known to have been wounded, officials said.
The attack follows several weeks of relative quiet in Kabul and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told Tolo News television that the blast appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber and had caused casualties but there were no immediate details.
An official from the ministry of public health said ambulances returning from the site had brought at least six wounded into city hospitals but the final toll was not known.
Voter registration centers have been set up across Afghanistan in preparation for long-delayed parliamentary elections due to be held in October and there have been serious concerns that they could be targeted by attacks.
Sunday’s blast took place in Dasht-e Barchi, an area of western Kabul inhabited by many members of the mainly Shiite Hazara minority, which has been repeatedly hit by attacks claimed by Daesh.