Putin's point man in Congress:

How did a one-time hawk­ish Rea­gan aide be­come Putin’s fa­vorite con­gress­man?

The Ukrainian Week - - CONTENTS - Yuriy La­payev

How did Dana Rohrabacher be­come Putin's fa­vorite con­gress­man?

In this old pho­to­graph, a mid­dle-aged man with a beard looks at the cam­era, smil­ing. He’s wear­ing a tra­di­tional Afghani tribal out­fit: a vest and pakol. Equally tra­di­tion­ally for Afghanistan is the ma­chine-gun in his hands—a Kal­sh­nikov. Only this isn’t a mu­jahideen or a Tal­iban fighter. It’s US Con­gress­man Dana Rohrabacher. A Repub­li­can from Cal­i­for­nia, shortly after his first elec­tion Rohrabacher took time off and went to fight against com­mu­nism on the side of the Afghan fight­ers. It was an un­der­stand­able move on the part of a for­mer spe­cial as­sis­tant to the no­to­ri­ously hawk­ish Ron­ald Rea­gan. A jour­nal­ist by pro­fes­sion, Rohrabacher’s main task was writ­ing speeches for Rea­gan. Later he de­cided to en­ter pol­i­tics him­self.

Nearly 71, Rohrabacher is now one of the grey beards of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. And yet, even though he was short­listed for the post of Sec­re­tary of State by the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion, his next ca­reer move, which is com­ing up soon, will likely be re­tire­ment. In the mean­time, though, Rohrabacher is hold­ing on tightly to his seat, in­clud­ing the chair of the Sub­com­mit­tee on Europe, Eura­sia and Emerg­ing Threats un­der the House Com­mit­tee on For­eign Af­fairs.

What threats in Europe might a man who fought against the soviet army some­where out­side Jel­lal­abad see? Yes, in­deedy. Rohrabacher thinks the main threat to Europe are the armed neo-Nazis who came to power in Ukraine after the Euro­maidan and are now, as sol­diers in pri­vate oli­garch ar­mies, busy killing the peace­ful res­i­dents of Don­bas with im­punity. At least that’s the kind of thing he stated at hear­ings by for­mer State Depart­ment of­fi­cial Vic­to­ria Nu­land and ex-US Am­bas­sador to the UN Saman­tha Power. And the only peace­maker that Rohrabacher be­lieves ca­pa­ble of bring­ing or­der to the re­gion is...Rus­sia.

In­ter­est­ingly, Rohrabacher also says the Krem­lin should not be blamed for in­ter­fer­ing in US elec­tions be­cause the US is no pin­na­cle of moral­ity or in­no­cent, ei­ther, and has fre­quently taken upon it­self to in­ter­fere in the po­lit­i­cal af­fairs of other coun­tries. He has ex­pressed an­noy­ance at Amer­i­can politi­cians who see Moscow as the en­emy and he has very heat­edly in­sisted that the US should im­prove its re­la­tions with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment. After Don­ald Trump was elected pres­i­dent, Rohrabacher an­nounced that there was noth­ing weird about his wish to “be friends with” Rus­sia.

How did this hawk­ish Repub­li­can ever turn into Vladimir Putin’s big­gest fan? The an­swer to this may be found in re­cent de­vel­op­ments around the Mag­nit­sky Act. When asked by The Ukrainian Week to com­ment, Bill Brow­der, the Bri­tish fi­nancier and Rus­sia in­vestor who had hired the late Sergei Mag­nit­sky as his lawyer, said:

“Putin is highly mo­ti­vated to stop the Mag­nit­sky Act from spread­ing to new coun­tries and to stop it from be­ing im­ple­mented in coun­tries where the law has been passed. He uses many meth­ods to do this. First and fore­most, he makes grand threats about Rus­sian re­tal­i­a­tion if any coun­try passes it. Some­times those threats are cred­i­ble, as in the case of the US, where Rus­sia can­celled adop­tions of Rus­sian or­phans by US fam­i­lies. In some cases the threats are empty, like with Canada, where Rus­sia has so far done noth­ing. In the cases of the US, Canada and the U.K., the threats haven’t worked, but we’ve seen Ire­land, for ex­am­ple, back down from Mag­nit­sky leg­is­la­tion be­cause of the threats.”

In ad­di­tion to threat­en­ing other coun­tries, the Krem­lin uses less ob­vi­ous but no less ef­fec­tive means—politi­cians that are in its pocket to broad­cast the nec­es­sary views of things. It came to light that, dur­ing his sev­eral vis­its to the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, Con­gress­man Rohrabacher was given in­for­ma­tion di­rectly from the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing of­fi­cials at the Prose­cu­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice, as well as from Vladimir Yakunin, a Putin in­sider and a one-time boss of the Rus­sian state rail­way. Yakunin was fa­mous for be­ing crit­i­cal of “the con­sumer so­ci­ety im­posed by the West,” but was then ex­posed for hav­ing a stor­age closet full of lux­ury furs and an ex­cep­tion­ally lav­ish life­style. More re­cently, Yakunin’s name joined the US sanc­tions list.

In ad­di­tion to Yakunin, Rohrabacher man­aged to meet with De­nis Kat­syv, a Moscow-based busi­ness­man and the son of a for­mer RF Min­is­ter of Trans­port. Kat­syv’s com­pany, Preve­zon Hold­ings, was in­volved in a money-laun­der­ing case that it set­tled with the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice in May 2017 for US $5.9mn in fines. In­ter­est­ingly, Preve­zon was rep­re­sented by at­tor­ney Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, who just hap­pened to be a go-be­tween dur­ing the han­dover of com­pro­mis­ing ma­te­ri­als against the Demo­cratic Party to Don­ald Trump Jr in sum­mer 2016. Rohrabacher ad­mit­ted to these

Un­ex­pected tra­jec­tory. Rohrabacher has swapped his anti-soviet sen­ti­ments for open sup­port for Rus­sia

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