Up & Coming Weekly

February 19, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 21 of 36

FEBRUARY 20-26, 2019 UCW 21 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM POLITICS D.G. MARTIN, Host of UNC's Book Watch. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Would you like to know why U.S. sanctions against companies owned by Russian billionaire and businessman Oleg Deripaska are being lifted? You are the reason. Me, too. And so is everybody else who lives and votes in North Carolina. Last April, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Deripaska and three of his companies for interfering in U.S. elections and for "money laun- dering, extortion and ordering the murder of a businessman." Deripaska is a friend and ally of Vladimir Putin and is connected to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Shortly after Trump's nomination, Manafort offered to give Deripaska private election briefings. Last month, the Treasury decided to remove sanctions on the three Deripaska companies, explaining that corporate arrangements would restrict Deripaska's control. Congress can reverse the removal of sanctions. The House, with 136 Republican members joining the Democrats, voted to reverse the Treasury's action. But in the Senate, the reversal got only 57 votes of 60 needed. According to Benjamin Parker, writing for The Bulwark, several Republican senators voted to reverse because they did not believe these corporate arrangements would pre- vent Deripaska from influencing his companies' actions. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said, "He still would maintain significant control given his ties to Putin." Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.: "I think he's a bad a guy and he's still in work- ing control." Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: "I still think he retains operational control." The New York Times journal- ist Kenneth P. Vogel wrote that the corporate arrangements to limit Deripaska's control of the companies "may have been less punitive than advertised. The deal contains provi- sions that free him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with major- ity ownership of his most important company." Coincidentally, while Deripaska was in the news, I was reading anoth- er version of how business works in Russia as set forth in Bill Browder's 2015 book "Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice." Browder tells how he made billions of dol- lars buying undervalued Russian stocks and prop- erties after Communism ended in that country. Then he tells how Putin and his oligarch allies plot- ted to take it all away from him and his investors. Browder fought back. In doing so, he gained the ire of Putin and became, according to Browder's book, Putin's No. 1 enemy. Russia declared Browder and his law- yer, Sergei Magnitsky, to be criminals. Browder fled Russia. Magnitsky stayed and was jailed, tortured and ultimate- ly beaten to death by Russian prison officers. Browder documents the horrors of Russian business and gov- ernment practices, including corrup- tion, torture and murder. Those facts played a role in Congress' 2012 deci- sion to impose sanctions on Russian individuals in a law designated as the Magnitsky Act. Putin retaliated by terminating the program that allowed Americans to adopt Russian orphaned children. Relief from the Magnitsky sanc- tions was one of the objectives of the Russians in the now-famous Trump Tower meeting between Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. in July 2016. Perhaps the conduct of Deripaska was not as bad as those who tortured and killed Magnitsky. But backing away from the sanctioning of his com- panies sends a wrong signal about the determination of Americans to take strong action when corrupt Russian businesses cheat, steal and murder. So, why are you, I and other North Carolinians responsible for the lifting of Deripaska sanctions? The proponents of the sanctions needed only three more votes to win. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders did not vote but would have voted for the sanctions. The two other neces- sary votes were those of our Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. If you and I had let them know how strong we were for maintaining the Deripaska sanctions, I think it would have made a difference. But we just did not get around to making a call to them. Oleg Deripaska Why we let Russia off the hook by D.G. MARTIN www.BraggMutual.org (910) 222-1500 Stop By Our Branch Today & Get On Your Way! Stopping You From Buying A CAR? Interest Rates HEAVY MAIN OFFICE 2917 VILLAGE DRIVE, FAYET TEVILLE D OWNTOWN 201 HAY STREET, FAYET TEVILLE SPRING L AKE 219 N. MAIN STREET, SPRING LAKE *Some restrictions and limitations may apply. Subject to credit approval and credit history. NOT ANYMORE! We Have Fantastic Rates! *

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