By William J. Dobson
January 3, 2013
(Chicago Tribune)—Few modern authoritarians are more image-conscious than Vladimir Putin. For 12 years, we have been treated to the macho displays of the Russian leader as action hero/adventurer: the judo black belt; the shirtless outdoorsman; the deep-sea diver; the motorcycle enthusiast; and most recently, the (slightly softer) supposed savior to a flock of endangered cranes. Less well-known is how carefully scripted Putin’s appearance on Russian television can be, with regime spin doctors dictating media coverage down to the minute. The Kremlin is probably a more poll-driven institution than anything you’ll find in Washington.
That’s why the Russian president’s decision on Friday to sign a piece of legislation forbidding the adoption of Russian children by American citizens appears at first blush to be so oddly tone deaf. The Russian bill will immediately block the adoption of 46 Russian orphans whose applications were nearly complete. It is in retaliation for a U.S. law that targeted corrupt Russian officials who had a connection to the imprisonment and death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer and whistle-blower who had uncovered a massive tax fraud implicating senior Russian officials and police officers. So, with the stroke of a pen, Putin appeared to be rushing to defend venal and most likely criminal Russian officials at the expense of dozens of orphans, not to mention the thousands of other Russian children who would eventually be taken in by American families. The ghastly conditions in Russia’s overburdened orphanages are no secret to Russians. (There are an estimated 120,000 children eligible for adoption. In 2011, Americans adopted 1,000 of the roughly 10,000 children who found homes.) No one has ever accused Putin of being a warm, fatherlike figure. Now he just seems mean.
h/t: Laura Ingraham