Updated: June 10, 2017

By Jamber Press Contributor  -  June 10, 2017
To the unsuspecting eye, Roosevelt Skerrit's presence at an 'International Economic Forum' in the Russian Federation appears to be sudden and unexpected. However, for those who have been following Labor Party activities over several years, it is not surprising. Russians have been buying Dominican passports for several years and Russian passport-selling agents have been previously identified. If that’s the case, then what did Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mean when he said that Dominica is “Russia’s very promising partner” in the Caribbean region. Dominicans should not lose sight of these events. The most obvious, yet disturbing reason for Russian interest in Dominica, holds that Dominica will provide opportunities for Russian Oligarchs to spirit ill-gotten gains out of Russia while the Russian people are 'sleeping'. At the other extreme, a Russian presence in Dominica will increase proximity to its arch-rival (the United states) and provide the opportunity for oligarchs to ensure their continued holdon power and wealth in the Russian Federation. As a bonus, Putin, who will shortly be seeking a fourth term as President can mentor Skerrit on achieving a similar feat in Dominica. Putin has no intention to leave Russian Leadership in his lifetime; he has been Premier and President over the last 18 years.  Skerrit has not hidden his interest in the same endeavor " to be Prime Minister for 50 years"

With the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, a process of wealth transfer and wealth consolidation started to take shape.  This lead to the birth of a new class of super rich and powerful who gobbled up wealth and resources previously encompassed by vast USSR governmental agencies.  Previously held state resources were concentrated amongst a few former politburo members (politicians, former KGB agents, military personnel) and their families. The Russian Federation, a country with vast natural resources, including oil and gas reserves and the world's largest country by land mass, now holds the title of having the largest wealth inequality in the world.   

According to Mr. Skerrit, he signed "several important  documents" and/or agreement on behalf of Dominica!  No one knows what was signed. Remember Malaysia, where documents were signed in 2013 and 2014 and, to this day,  the Dominican populace remains in the dark. The Malaysian mess blew up and the rest is history. As we now know, 'My Dominica Trade House' was a front for UN Sanction evasion, theft of Iranian State money and money laundering. Now, all known key players (Babak Zanjani, Reza Zarrab and Alireza Monfared) are in Jail in Iran and the USA. Skerrit and the members of his cabal are still on the loose. A similar scenario has occurred with Petro Carib and ALBA in which the Venezuelan People were scammed and had their resource pillaged by unscrupulous Leaders who saw an opportunity to do so. Currently, Petro-Carib is insolvent, ALBA is faltering and adrift while a few Caribbean and Venezuelan Leaders have made out like bandits. As if two scandals are not enough, what about the East Asian (Macao-China-Singapore)  scandal? Key players (Francisco Lorenzo, John Ash,  Sheri Yan, Heidi Park, Vivian Wang) are either in jail, awaiting trial, in prison or dead. Now, we are onto another scheme.

The Labor Party Administration and PM Skerrit would like the Dominican public to think that his attendance at the Russian Forum was some type of grand plan to improve Russia and Caricom relations. Isn't that suppose to be the job of Francine Baron, foreign minister? What has she been doing? Dominica has had relations with Russia since 1995 and the Labor Party has been running Dominica for 17 years! Where are the projects? Unfortunately,  Mr, Skerrit has a bad habit of blurring issues. He probably has some incoherent  reason for this sudden interest in Russia in 2017. But Dominicans should realize that Russia today is not the Russia under Mr. Boris Yeltsin in the 90's.  Russia today is being led by a narcissist, Vladimir Putin, who is obsessed with power and rule over his people with fear and brutality. Currently, all actions by Russia have to be viewed through a different set of lens.

Russia has been changing under Vladimir Putin.  He was upset about the breakup of the Soviet Union and he thinks Russia has to seize any opportunity to expand their National Interest. They have long wanted to have more of a military presence in the Caribbean.  Mr. Putin is bent on using the Caribbean to get into America’s face.  Russia wants to position itself as a Global counterbalancing power to the USA. Since Putin Invaded Crimea with the support of Nationalists, he has extended his reach into Latin America, Algeria and Singapore. The Caribbean is viewed by Putin as a good place to exert its influence right in the backyard of its nemesis, the USA.  Also, having more votes on their side in the UN would not hurt.  Remember, when the UN took the vote after he annexed Crimea, four Latin American countries voted against and four abstained from the vote.

Mr. Skerrit appears to be blinded by the prospect of more passport sales. Dominicans should remember that although many persons who purchase Dominica’s passports have chosen to remain outside of Dominica, that may not be the case with Russia.  A sparsely inhabited island like Dominica, located between 2 French protectorates, maybe just what Russia wants. Mr. Putin is spending a vast amount of money on his military to the detriment of caring for his people. One has to wonder why? If Mr. Skerrit is not careful,  soon Dominicans will be exclaiming, “I can see Russia from my backyard". Skerrit must not play Russian roulette with the lives of the people of Dominica; this game is usually deadly.

Another analytical insight into the sudden interest in the Russian Federation holds that, with the loss of Corresponding banking relationship with many Western Banks (due to deficient or non-existent due-diligence in passport sales), the Labor Party administration is simply seeking new ways of ensuring that the administration can transmit funds from passport sales into Dominica. While this is a reasonable and plausible consideration, one must remember that Mr. Skerrit has never seen a crisis he can't exploit for personal aggrandizement and advancement.

Hence, there is another angle to this developing issue which should not be ignored. Recall that the EU, USA and Canada instituted economic and financial sanctions against the Russian Federation in March 2014 following Russian annexation of Crimea and incursion into Eastern Ukraine to support Russian-backed separatist. The sanctions were recently reinforced following Russian interference with the US General Election in 2016. Sanctions were directed against specific state and military corporations and individuals who headed these entities. This meant that the oligarchs were particularly affected by this sanction regime. These individuals (mostly billionaires) have a wealth of cash and other ill-gotten resources that need to be 'washed' into the western economy (London, Paris, French Riviera, Rome, Toronto, New York, South Florida) but have been suddenly hampered by sanctions. Since Russians are allowed to have a second passport, could Dominica serve dual purpose to Russian Oligarchy that is populated by state-supported crocks, criminals and scoundrels? With a Dominica passport, they will be able to travel unhindered on a Caricom Passport and move money simultaneously.

Dominica may indeed be the new Russian Gateway to the Western World. Recall that Prime Roosevelt Skerrit stated that "Dominica has the potential to become a Hub for Russian economic activity in the Caribbean". What kind of Hub would that be?

      Dominica does not have an international Airport.  Nor is there a Russian tourist trade. Dominica does not export products to Russia.  But, Dominica does have a runway for private jets, which could certainly serve as a "hub" for the oligarchs and the island would be a good place to switch a flight plan - i.e place of origin.

Seriously!!  Is it possible that Roosevelt Skerrit and the Labor party hierarchy may be involving Dominica in more International Shenanigans? Recall that the Iranian sanction evasion mess started out with trips to Malaysia that were shrouded in secrecy. Hopefully, we will not have to follow the dead bodies to decipher the Russian angle.

Probably Skerrit’s primary intention was to try to sell more passports to Russians.  However, the trip seemed to have evolved into something more. Dominicans all over need to be vigilant to avoid another International Scandal. No doubt, in their usual fashion, we may soon see Russians doing small projects here and there in Dominica, But the real story will be completely hidden from view of the wider population, known only to those who are benefiting the most. That is, until it blows up in our face. The  current Russian government is as opaque as mud and Mr. Skerrit  would welcome the opportunity to continue dealing in the dark.