Some 9,500 people have marched in central Moscow against the so-called Dima Yakovlev anti-adoption law. The protest has been peaceful, with no arrests made.
Despite the freezing temperatures in Russia’s capital this weekend, Kremlin critics and opponents of the ban converged on the Boulevard Ring for the protest they dubbed ‘Against the Scoundrels’, referring to State Duma lawmakers who approved the bill earlier in December.
Some of the activists have been holding banners reading anti-law and anti-political notes; some were chanting “Shame” and "Putin is a scoundrel!"
Among numerous banners there were some depicting faces of Russian lawmakers crossed by the red word reading ‘shame’.
Marchers were also holding toys and pictures of children.
The march, authorized by Moscow authorities, started at 2pm local time (10:00 GMT) and had to be finished by 4:30pm.
The leader of the opposition Left Front Movement, Sergey Udaltsov, has called for activists to stage “unlimited” protests in spring.
“Now we will look at the authorities’ reaction and in spring, when it will be warmer, we should stage unlimited mass protests, probably including sitting in on squares,” Udaltsov told journalists.
At the end of the march, Udaltsov burned a portrait of President Putin, raising criticism from his fellow protesters.
According to different estimates, the attendance was between 9,500 and 50,000 people. Police first reported about 7,000 but then raised the figure to more than 9,000. At the same time, organizers claim between 40,000 and 50,000 people attended the rally.
The opposition demands the law that prohibits adoptions of Russian children by US citizens be revoked and the dissolution of the State Duma and a new election.
Russian parliamentarians approved the anti-adoption bill rather quickly in December following the adoption of the Magnitsky Act by the US. The Act allows the US to deny visas to, as well as freeze the assets of, Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, who died in jail three years ago.
Russian lawmakers insist the law, adopted in retaliation to the US Magnitsky Act, was justified by the lack of the US officials’ response to death of 19 Russian children adopted by Americans. The legislation was named after two-year-old Dima Yakovlev, who died three months after an American couple had adopted him.
Critics of what they call a “scoundrels’ law” does not punish American people, but Russian orphans.
The newly-enacted Dima Yakovlev law imposes a visa ban and asset freeze on US officials who violate the rights of Russian citizens abroad, and bans the US sponsorship of NGOs that operate in Russia, as well as the work of US citizens in Russian NGOs.