MOSCOW, May 17 (RAPSI) – The State Duma refused Friday to overturn Russia’s ban on the adoption of its orphans by US families.

President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill barring US citizens from adopting children from Russia last December. It took effect on January 1, 2013. In addition to prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by Americans, it introduced a number of measures against US citizens deemed to have violated the rights of Russians, committed crimes against them, or who were involved in the commission of such offenses.

The law is named after a two-year-old Russian boy, Dima Yakovlev, who died in 2008 after being left in a car by his adoptive US father. The father was acquitted of manslaughter.

The Dima Yakovlev law was passed in retaliation for the US Magnitsky Act, which imposed visa and financial sanctions against Russians believed by US authorities to have been involved in human rights violations.

Members of Russia’s ruling United Russia party said that the bill commemorates all Russian children who died or suffered as a result of negligence on the part of their US foster parents.

Lawmakers Dmitry Gudkov and Ilya Ponomaryov backed the claim filed to the State Duma by Novaya Gazeta newspaper seeking the ban to be abolished. The claim gathered more than 100 thousand signatures when it was laid out on the website of the newspaper.

Six State Duma lawmakers voted for the bill to overturn the ban. 74 voted against it. The rest abstained from voting.

Gudkov said that he generally doesn’t support the idea of giving Russian children to foreigners, but he is against the US ban at least until conditions are improved for them in Russia.

Vladimir Ponevezhsky, the United Russia party representative, explained that the ban is justified because Russian children have not been afforded appropriate conditions with American families. In his view, priority should be placed on adopting Russian children to Russian families.