Democrats calling on Permanent Fund and Governor to divest Russian assets

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Democrats in the State Legislature are calling on the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation and Governor Mike Dunleavy to divest assets from Russian state-owned companies and the Russian government.

    Anchorage Senator Bill Wielechowski is among them.  "I know the Governor put out a press release the other day saying that Alaska stands with Ukraine and we're going to do what we can to support them.  You can talk the talk, it's time to start walking the walk," he said.

    Senator Wielechowski said the Permanent Fund has about $210 Million invested in Russia.

    Anchorage Representative Zack Fields tells us it would not be difficult to divest.  He said it's very simple and it's actually money controlled by the Permanent Fund Corporation.  "They can decide today, tomorrow to move these funds into other investments and they should.  Number one I think Russia is a pretty risky investment right now.  Alaskans' money shouldn't be at risk in Russian companies and Russian assets.  Number 2 Russia is a kleptocracy  where Vladimir Putin is a dictator who works in partnership with these oligarchs and he shouldn't in any way have access to Alaskans' money when that money could be put to use against the United States' interest."

    Representative David Nelson of Anchorage explained to us his inspiration for joining in on this call.  He said the Matanuska Brewing Company in his hometown posted on Facebook that they were pouring Russian vodka down the drain because they don't want to sell it and support the Russian economy in any way.  

    Nelson added that this kind of thing is happening all across the United States and across the world.  "The global response is happening and so if we can play any part in it that's what I think we should be able to do."

    Paulyn Swanson of the Permanent Fund Corporation is quoted in a story from the Associated Press that says the corporation currently is not considering divestment.

    Swanson says fund managers will continue trying to do what is in the fund's best interest. She says that “exposure to Russia” represents 0.2% of the fund's total assets under management.



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