US adoption ban bill 'appropriate' says Putin

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President Vladimir Putin on Thursday backed pending parliamentary legislation that would make it illegal for Americans to adopt Russian children in reprisal for a new Washington human rights law.

"I understand that this was an emotional response by the State Duma, but I think that it was appropriate," Putin told the first major press conference of his third term as president.

He complained bitterly that local US courts had found several Americans not guilty of manslaughter charges following the death of Russian children under their care.

The Russian legislation -- awaiting final approval in the Duma lower house of parliament on Friday -- is named in honour of a Russian child who suffocated in a locked car during the summer heat.

"The judges will not even let us attend (the US trials) as observers," Putin said.

Russia's new legislation came about after US President Barack Obama last week signed into law the so-called Magnitsky Act, named in honour of a lawyer who died in 2009 after blowing the whistle on a $235 police embezzlement scheme.

Magnitsky died under pre-trial arrest that his mother said had exposed him to "torture conditions".

Putin said the United States had no moral right to pass judgement on Russia's legal system

"They themselves have plenty of problems," Putin said of the the United States.

"I have already talked about this: listen, Abu Ghraib… Guantanamo.

Putin said the US authorities "are holding people in jail for years without charging them. That is unbelievable.

"And what's more they don't just hold them in prison without charge, they hold them in shackles, like in the mediaeval ages," Putin fumed.

"Inside their own country they have legalised torture. Can you imagine if anything like that happened in our country?"