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Putin backs ban on American adoptions

Moscow, Dec. 20 (Reuters): President Vladimir Putin supported a ban on Americans adopting Russian children today in a feud over a US human rights law which he said was poisoning relations.

Putin, 60, struck a hawkish tone in his first annual news conference since he began a new six-year term in May but denied that tough measures against his opponents since his return to the Kremlin meant he was an authoritarian leader.

He used the marathon live broadcast to dismiss speculation about his health, underline the strength of the economy and portray himself as the guarantor of stability. “This is by no means the least successful period in Russia's history,” he said, adding: “Because I love Russia.”

Sitting behind a large desk in front of 1,200 journalists in a Moscow conference centre, Putin remained calm.

But he became particularly animated when asked about the spat with Washington.

He described as “unfriendly” the legislation signed by President Barack Obama last week that will punish Russians accused of violating human rights by refusing them visas and freezing their assets in the US.

“This, of course, poisons our relationship,” he said of the measures, drawn up because of concern over the death in a Russian prison of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.

 
 
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