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Legislation To Maintain Sanctions On Deripaska Companies Fails In U.S. Senate

By RFE/RL January 17, 2019

The U.S. Senate has failed to pass a resolution that could have stopped sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska from being lifted.

The January 16 vote was a victory for President Donald Trump's administration, which had lobbied senators hard to not pass the measure.

Lawmakers voted 57-42, which ended debate on the resolution since it was short of the required 60 votes to advance it to a final passage vote. Still, 11 senators from Trump's Republican party joined with Democrats in the effort, a sign of how many congressional lawmakers feel about Trump's Russia policy.

The resolution was pushed by Senate Democrats, in response to last month's announcement by the Treasury Department that it would lift sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska. That includes aluminum giant Rusal, its parent company En+, and power firm EuroSibEnergo.

The sanctions were initially imposed in April, but they roiled global metals markets, unnerving businesses in the United States and Europe; Rusal is one of the world's largest aluminum producers.

Deripaska, who is widely believed to have close ties to the Kremlin, has agreed to pare back his controlling stakes in the companies. He himself remains subject to U.S. sanctions.

The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said ahead of the vote that the timing of the sanctions decision was wrong, given the larger Russia investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and other congressional committees.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week testified before a House committee about the effort to lift the sanctions, telling lawmakers that the Trump administration would keep control over the companies.

A similar measure will be brought up for a vote on January 17 in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats. It likely will pass the House, but the failure of the Senate vote means its long-term fate is uncertain.

In addition to his ties to the Kremlin, Deripaska also was a former business partner with Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman.

With reporting by Reuters

Source: -sanctions/29714757.html

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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