MOSCOW, March 20  – RAPSI. The majority of Russian ministers are against a recently approved ban on US nationals adopting Russian children, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Wednesday.

“A lot of people in the Cabinet, the majority, were against the legislation, at least in the form it was passed,” Dvorkovich said at a meeting with students, the Prime business news agency reported.

He also said it should be possible to resolve child protection issues without resorting to such “harsh” measures.

Moscow’s ban on adoptions of Russian children by US nationals came into force on January 1, shortly after Washington had approved a law introducing sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses.

The deputy prime minister in charge of social affairs, Olga Golodets, Science and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have publicly criticized the ban.

Russia said the ban is necessary to protect its children, citing cases of abuse and neglect by US parents which have resulted in the deaths of 20 Russian adoptees since the early 1990s.

A recent survey showed that the majority of Russians back the ban. But critics say the ban will strand hundreds of children, especially those with special needs, in Soviet-era system of orphanages. The ban has triggered an emotional debate, with marches in Moscow both for and against it.