MOSCOW, April 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual couples from abroad will not be allowed to adopt Russian children under new rules backed by President Vladimir Putin. The move follows the implementation of a new law on January 1st preventing adoption of Russian children by American couples.

Putin has asked for amendments to be drafted to the current adoption laws by the Ministry of Education and Science and Supreme Court, Izvestia newspaper reports. The draft legislation is expected by July 1st.

The move is supported by children’s rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov who recently said he would do all he could to prevent Russian children being adopted by same-sex partners. Commenting on plans by the French Socialist government to institute “gay marriage,” Astakhov said that allowing Russian children to be adopted by homosexuals would be “unconstitutional”.

Controversy has been stirred in Russia over the impending “gay marriage” laws in Britain and France, with Foreign Ministry official Konstantin Dolgov saying that the changes “narrow the chances” of adoptions to be considered from those countries. 

With the economic crisis that followed the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia became a favorite destination for foreign couples looking to adopt children. Since 1991, experts believe that as many as 60,000 children have been adopted to parents in the US.

In related news, the most recent statistics have shown a significant improvement in the Russian demographic situation and many of the dire trends appear to be turning around. Formerly known as the “sick man” of Europe, along with its economic crisis, post-communist Russia experienced a long downward spiral in birth rates, life expectancy and the health of its people. The UN warned in 2005 that the Russian population, at that time about 143 million, could fall by a third by 2050, if trends did not improve.

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President Putin has made reversal of these trends a high priority for his government, however, and birth rates have shown steady improvement over the last five years and population loss has begun to level off since 2009. Almost alone among European leaders, Putin has considered limited measures to curb the country’s abortion rate, thought to be among the highest in the world. 

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in January that improving the Russian Federation’s demographics remains a high priority for the government. He said that the population is capable of recovery and growth up to 145 million by 2025. 

“It is important to maintain the recent upward demographic trend, and ensure sustainable growth in the birth rate, lower the mortality rate and increase life expectancy to 74 years. All that will create conditions for increasing the Russian population to 145 million by 2025,” Medvedev said. He promised more government funds for building kindergartens and monthly allowance for mothers who give birth to their third and subsequent children. 

Murder and suicide rates have continued to decline, down in January this year by 4.5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively from the previous month. Russian authorities are working to limit alcohol sales and mortality from accidental alcohol poisoning has dropped from 25 per 100,000 population to 10 between 2000 and 2011.

Births rose from a low of 8.27 births per 1000 people in 1999 to 12.6 per 1000 in 2010 and the overall fertility rate, after reaching a low of 1.16 children born per woman in 1999 rose to 1.54 in 2009 and to 1.61 children born per woman as of January 2013. 

Average male life expectancy, another major indicator of demographic and economic improvement, shows a steady increase from 58.9 in 2005 to 64.3 in 2011.