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Finding Putin In Hell’s Kitchen

By Paul Martin
By Paul Martin

Countless allegations: insidious torture and murder; ethnic cleansing; supporting brutal dictators; mysterious poisonings. Last month, an attack with chemical weapons on NATO soil.

In addition, cyber-warfare on the United States of America.

Is Vladimir Putin guilty of these allegations? If so, why would Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher be his staunchest defender in American politics? How did the 15-term representative become known as “Putin’s Favorite Congressman?”

I’ve asked myself these questions dozens of times. I’ve Googled “Rohrabacher Russia” and read dozens of articles with titles ranging from “GOP Restricts Travel of Republican Congressman for Alleged Ties to Russia,” to “3 Questions About A Pro-Russia Congressman’s Meeting with Julian Assange.”

More than News Reports

I wanted to learn more about Putin. So, I recently flew to New York City and attended an event organized by the Human Rights Foundation and led by the chess champion and prominent Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov. PutinCon took place in Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan and featured Russian democracy activists, Kremlin experts, Putin biographers, law enforcement professionals, historians, foreign policy leaders, and intelligence analysts

The array of speakers confirmed well-established reports, like the story of Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky, a Russian tax attorney, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered for exposing $230 million in government fraud. In response, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012, placing sanctions on the Russian oligarchs responsible for his death. As “retaliation” for these sanctions, Putin suspended the adoption of Russian babies in America. So insidious was the act of using children — most of whom suffered from physical ailments — that tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in protest.

PutinCon shed light on the mysterious deaths of others critical of Putin — politicians, journalists, activists.

I sat in a session called “The Killings of Vladimir Putin,” when I received a news alert on my iPhone. Nicoli Glushkov, a former Russian business magnate and staunch critic of Putin, had been murdered in his home in New Malden, South West London, from “compression of the neck.”

Glushkov, just days following the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, was murdered in New Malden, ironically, a place where I myself lived for two years while on a work assignment.

Putin’s human rights abuses were indisputable. But what about allegations of cyberwarfare?

The New Warfare

During the session “Putin’s Reach and Vision,” I heard details about a new way to weaken one’s enemy.

The Kremlin is engaging today in non-military methodology — namely, creating division within the borders of their adversaries, which leads to internal chaos and instability. Experts explained “new attack vectors” such as hacking, doxing and bots as the latest “weapons” used to spread targeted dis- and mis-information. Today’s confusion surrounding Russia’s cyber-attack on the U.S. stems from the fact that, for many, the attack continues to go about unseen, underreported and unprosecuted.

Americans are divided over whether an attack ever occurred. That weakens us. Putin has achieved his goal.

What Would Reagan Do?

Having returned from PutinCon, I’m mostly alarmed at Dana Rohrabacher’s ongoing support of this brutal dictator who is waging a new kind of war on our sacred democracy. In a December interview he told ABC News, “I’m not Putin’s best friend. I’m a patriotic American who knows that it would be really good for America to cooperate with Russia.”

Cooperate? Rorhabacher’s words conjure up in me an idea of a remarkably different kind of patriotism — that of President Reagan, who I voted for as an idealistic 18-year-old. Reagan wasn’t afraid to call out Moscow for its malicious deeds. He had guts. The phrases “evil empire”  and “tear down that wall” are embedded in my memory.

Voters ask me sometimes, “Don’t we want good relations with Russia?” Of course, we do. But not while they are attacking our great country.

Reagan fought to bring down the Soviet Union. Putin said its collapse was, “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Dana Rohrabacher is Putin’s Favorite Congressman.

This is unacceptable.

Paul Martin is a centrist Republican candidate in California’s 48thCongressional district. He lives in Costa Mesa. His campaign website is



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