A bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children went to President Vladimir Putin for his signature on Wednesday after winning final approval from parliament in retaliation for a U.S. law that targets Russian human rights abusers.
Putin has strongly hinted he will sign the bill, which would also outlaw some U.S.-funded non-governmental groups and impose visa bans and asset freezes on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russians.
The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, voted unanimously to approve the bill, which has clouded U.S.-Russia relations and outraged Russian liberals who say lawmakers are playing a political game with the lives of children.
Putin backs a ban on Americans adopting Russian children
President Vladimir Putin backed a ban on Americans adopting Russian children on Thursday in a feud over a U.S. law that aims to punish Russians accused of violating human rights.
In his first annual news conference since he began a new six-year term in May, the former KGB spy often struck a hawkish tone, signaling support for tough retaliation against the “unfriendly” Magnitsky Act passed by Moscow’s former Cold War enemy, which he said was poisoning relations.
A political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking legal action against American pop star Lady Gaga for promoting gay rights to minors during a concert on Sunday.
Vitaly Milonov, a member of the ruling United Russia party in the St Petersburg assembly and the architect of a city law that bans gay “propaganda”, accused the singer of breaking the law at the beginning of her show.
“We saw that in addition to music, songs and such, there were direct calls for 12-year-old citizens to support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,” Milonov said, adding that he would file a complaint to prosecutors over the singer’s actions.
He had unsuccessfully called on authorities to bar people under 18 from attending Lady Gaga’s show.
A member of punk band Pussy Riot was freed on appeal on Wednesday but a Moscow court upheld prison sentences for two others imposed over a raucous cathedral protest against Vladimir Putin, who said they had got the jail terms they deserved.
Yekaterina Samutsevich walked free from Moscow City Court after six months behind bars but the appeal judge who suspended her two-year sentence said fellow band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina should serve out their terms.
“I have mixed feelings,” Samutsevich, 30, said outside the court, where she was greeted by applause and whistles from a crowd of about 150 people in the rain. “I’m happy, of course, but I am upset about the girls.”
Russia denounced foreign criticism of the trial of punk band Pussy Riot as politically motivated on Wednesday and said there were “elements of a clash of civilizations” in Western condemnation.
Three members of the band were sentenced to two years’ jail last week for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” when they performed a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral, calling on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.
Western governments have said the sentences handed down to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were disproportionate. Rights groups and musicians have called for their release.
Critics of Putin, who returned to the presidency for a third term on May 7 after a four-year spell as prime minister, say the Pussy Riot case illustrated his lack of tolerance of dissent.
The website of a Moscow court that convicted three members of punk band Pussy Riot to two years in jail each for belting out a profanity-laced anti-Kremlin song inside a cathedral was hacked on Tuesday.
A slogan denouncing President Vladimir Putin was posted on the site as was an appeal for the trio’s release along with a video clip of one of the band’s latest anti-Putin songs and a clip by Bulgarian singer Azis, local media reported.
The hack attack - claimed by AnonymousRussia, which says it is affiliated with hacking activist group Anonymous - comes amid a chorus of criticism of the sentences, which Western governments and singers said were disproportionate and opponents of Putin called part of a crackdown on dissent.
A screenshot posted by opposition activist Ilya Yashin on Twitter showed the court’s web page topped by an inscription reading: “Putin’s thieving gang is plundering our country! Wake up, comrades!”
Another caption called for the release of the band’s jailed members - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30.
The site of Moscow’s Khamovniki district court hamovnichesky.msk.sudrf.ru/ was operating normally by noon (0800 GMT) but its hacked version was on display for several hours on Tuesday morning.
Darya Lyakh, a spokeswoman for the court, said a department of the Supreme Court had asked federal investigators to look into the hacking attack.
Russian police are searching for more members of the Pussy Riot punk rock band, a spokeswoman said, signaling further pressure on the group despite an international outcry over jail terms for three women who protested in a church against Vladimir Putin.
The Russian president’s critics condemned the court proceeding that yielded the two-year prison sentences on Friday as part of a clampdown on a protest movement and reminiscent of show trials of dissidents in the Soviet era.
Police said on Monday they were searching for other members of the group over the February protest at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, but had not yet identified the suspects.
Police did not say how many people they were looking for, nor whether they faced arrest and charges or whether they were just wanted for questioning.
A judge sentenced three members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot to two years jail on Friday for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in a church, an act the judge called “blasphemous.”
Judge Marina Syrova found the women guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, describing them as blasphemers who had deliberately offended Russian Orthodox believers by storming the altar of Moscow’s main cathedral in February to belt out a song deriding Putin.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, stood watching in handcuffs in a glass courtroom cage.
The women say they were protesting against Putin’s close ties with the church when they burst onto the altar in Moscow’s golden domed Christ the Saviour Cathedral wearing bright ski masks, tights and short skirts. State prosecutors had requested a three-year jail term.
“Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Alyokhina committed an act of hooliganism, a gross violation of public order showing obvious disrespect for society,” the judge said.
“The girls’ actions were sacrilegious, blasphemous and broke the church’s rules.”
FLASH: Russian judge sentences Pussy Riot defendants Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina to two years in prison. More soon on Reuters.com.
A cow which was not in the mood ambled to the top storey of a Siberian apartment building to escape a bull which was, and had to be led back down by firefighters, authorities said.
The cow was discovered bellowing on the top of a stairwell in the five-storey building in the village of Lesogorsk last month, with the probable cause of the cow’s distress an amorous bull at the bottom.
“The bull was very loving and had paid excessive attention to the cow during the summer grazing,” the Irkutsk regional branch of Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement.
“Trying to escape from him, the cow ran into the building and climbed up to the fifth storey,” it said.
It took firefighters about three minutes to get the cow downstairs by roping its horns and pulling, according to the statement, which suggested members of the crowd that gathered should have done the job themselves.