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Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks had close ties to Russia

The recent trips to Ukraine by Queen’s Democratic MP Gregory Meeks mark an about-face for the former Russia-loving Pole, who once described Vladimir Putin’s government as an “important ally relationship” and “strategic partner” for the US

Meeks, the chairman of the House External Relations Committee, along with disgraced former Staten Island Pole Michael Grimm, founded the House Russia Caucus, which had once championed the removal of trade barriers with the country.

And Meeks’ sister, Janella Meeks, works for Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, a company once linked to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, a Putin confidant who used to own the New Jersey Nets. Janella Meeks is the company’s Deputy Director of Government and Public Affairs, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Unlike dozens of other Russian billionaires close to Putin, Prokhorov has not been sanctioned by either the US or Europe. In 2019, he sold the team and the Barclay Arena, raking in more than $2 billion on the deals. The sale of the NBA franchise was reportedly at the behest of Putin, The Post recently revealed.

But Meeks recently embraced Ukraine’s fight against Putin, accompanying Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on an official visit by a congressional delegation to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month.

We have pledged to him the unwavering and bipartisan support of the United States and Congress for Ukraine’s defense,” Meeks said in a statement earlier this month.

Meeks alongside Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas following a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in March 2022.
Meeks alongside Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas following a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in March 2022.
AP
Meeks was once a strong advocate for lifting trade restrictions with Russia.
Meeks was once a strong advocate for lifting trade restrictions with Russia.
AP

But despite Meeks’ recent anti-Putin overture, some critics still question his ties to the Russians.

“One of the things that gives Putin confidence is knowing that he has a strong sympathizer in the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives, Gregory Meeks,” said Tom Anderson, director of the Government Integrity Project at National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog. “It is a mystery why Congressman Meeks would go so far as to push legislation that benefits Russian interests through the Russia caucus, only to quietly distance himself.”

Meeks was so in love with Russia that he once rebuked Republican Senator Mitt Romney for making derogatory remarks about the country during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Meeks watches as Nancy Pelosi signs the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022.
Meeks watches as Nancy Pelosi signs the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022.
Getty Images

“What … Romney fails to realize is that complex relationships between allies can withstand dissenting policies even on matters of major importance,” Meeks said in a statement posted to his website in July 2012, which has since been removed. “I am deeply concerned that uninformed statements, such as those made by presidential candidate Romney, describing Russia as our number one enemy or adversary, do nothing to serve U.S. interests.”

Before the Ukraine war, Meeks spearheaded efforts to serve Russia’s interests in the United States. He established the US-Russia Economic Relations Caucus in 2011 to support Russia’s bid for World Trade Organization membership. He and Grimm, who served eight months in prison for tax evasion in 2015, also lobbied for Congress to end the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Commerce Act, which restricted trade with communist bloc countries. President Obama repealed the amendment a year later in December 2012, but angered Russia by including the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on Russian officials complicit in human rights abuses.

Two years later, in 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, the Russia Caucus, which had received Russian visitors in Washington DC and presentations by Russian officials, was disbanded, according to Politico.

Volodymyr Zelensky meets Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in April 2022.
Volodymyr Zelensky meets Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in April 2022.
Getty Images

“As with all caucuses that Representative Meeks has chaired or been a member of, the purpose of the Russia caucus was to advance US interests,” said a spokesman for the Foreign Relations Committee. “The caucus was established as the United States sought to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia, as WTO rules dictate once Russia was admitted to the international economic organization. At the same time, Representative Meeks also advocated the Magnitsky Act to impose consequences on Russia for human rights violations.”

Both Meeks and Grimm were named the most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as of 2011. The government watchdog called for a nationwide probe into the congressman after he accepted tens of thousands in loans from political benefactors to purchase his $830,000 Queens home. They also criticized Meeks for his ties to shady charities, including a Queens nonprofit that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims but only paid out a fraction of the donations received.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/28/queens-rep-gregory-meeks-had-cozy-connection-with-russia/ Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks had close ties to Russia

JACLYN DIAZ

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