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Thousands March In Moscow Against Adoption Ban


Thousands March In Moscow To Protest Adoption Ban
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MOSCOW -- Tens of thousands of protesters have held a sanctioned march through the center of Moscow to protest a recently adopted law that bans the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens.

Police said about 9,500 people participated in the march, while opposition organizers put the figure at 30,000 or more, including many with children and baby strollers. The action was held despite bitter winter cold.

Demonstrators carried placards calling for the State Duma to be disbanded and chanted that the antiadoption law is a "shame."

"We came here to express our disapproval of this shameful law adopted by the Duma and signed by our president," one unnamed protester told RFE/RL.

"I believe such a Duma should be dissolved and such a person [Vladimir Putin] does not deserve to be our president."

There were no speeches, and marchers disbanded as soon as the march was over.

Protesters rally against the law banning Americans from adopting Russian children in St. Petersburg on January 13. The sign reads, "Murderers of children, get out of the Duma."
Protesters rally against the law banning Americans from adopting Russian children in St. Petersburg on January 13. The sign reads, "Murderers of children, get out of the Duma."

Opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, head of the Left Front movement, said the demonstration proved "the protest movement is still strong." He said that in the spring, when the weather is warmer, he will call for a permanent protest in Moscow.

Police said they had videotaped Udaltsov setting fire to placards with portraits of Duma deputies. Officials said they would turn the video over to investigators for possible action.

Former Duma Deputy Gennady Gudkov also attended the march.

"I disagree with this law, I think that the authorities now are in a state of hysteria, they are totally lost. They don't understand what to do with the country, for the country, for the people," Gudkov said.

Some 4,000 police were on duty to maintain order, and demonstrators passed through metal detectors to reach the march route. Police helicopters hovered overhead throughout the afternoon.

Authorities approved the participation of up to 20,000 people in the demonstration.

Police reported that nine people were detained for public intoxication.

Smaller demonstrations were held in other Russian cities. In St. Petersburg, police said 1,000 people gathered, while organizers said about 2,000 people participated. Demonstrations were also reported in Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Kirov, and other cities.

Russian lawmakers passed the antiadoption law in response to a recent U.S. law that places sanctions on Russian officials suspected of involvement in human rights abuses.

With reporting by Dozhd TV and Interfax

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