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Dunleavy proposes selling Aleutian Islands back to Russia to fund $5000 PFD


Politicians who face limited options for locating state revenue sources may be in for a windfall under the latest version of the governor’s budget package. Dunleavy’s most recent fiscal plan proposes to sell the islands of the Aleutian chain back to Russia.

Dunleavy’s plan for fiscal year 2022, titled “A Path Forward,” sets forth several provisions to give Alaska residents permanent fund dividend payments that many claim have been unconstitutionally withheld during the past half-decade of budget shortfalls. 

Russia held control of Alaska for nearly 75 years in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 for 7.2 million dollars. The Dunleavy proposal comes with an asking price of 350 million dollars. 

"When you account for inflation, that’s more than double what the United States paid for the entire state in 1867. So really, we are coming out ahead in a lot of ways,” said Dunleavy spokesperson Jeff Turner. 

Many with ties to the Aleutians region quickly decried the land sale idea as ludicrous, citing the strength of Alaska’s fishing industry and the fact that the fishing port of Dutch Harbor would be included in the sale. 

"We have boats out there that can harvest every fish in the Bering Sea, and they’re all coming through Dutch Harbor,” said Trident Seafoods CEO Bob Jones. “You want all that money to go to the Russians?”

Residents of the Aleutians East Borough and the Lake and Peninsula Boroughs would have the option to remain US citizens by moving to Anchorage, or to become citizens of the Russian Federation.  

Several legislators have expressed support for the land sale, though some suggested that the sale be tied to other issues up for debate during this year’s legislative session. 

“We have a God-given right to the full and accurate PFD payment,” said Wasilla state senator David Eastman, a supporter of the sale. “In fact, if we exclude all pro-choice residents, every real Alaskan citizen would get nearly $10,000 dollars per year.”

Some Russians support the idea of reclaiming Russian control of America’s largest state. Musical group Lyube, rumored to be Putin’s favorite band, released a music video that shows Alaska being forcibly taken back at gunpoint; a popular meme has circulated on Russian social media that reads “Crimea first, Alaska next”; a 2015 TV documentary argued that Russia had not been fully paid for the original sale; former Russian colonel Vladimir Zhirinovsky has proposed using Alaska to house Ukranians as part of nationalist expansion plans; and a Russian organization has petitioned the US government for Alaska’s return, claiming that the legalization of gay marriage violated the original agreement of sale.

“Gay marriage should be illegal, and abortion needs to be too,” said Rep. Eastman in response to the rising tide of Russian nationalist propaganda. 

Russian government agencies declined to comment on the possible sale.  

Many Alaskans are torn about the proposed sale. The outsized PFD check has been anticipated for over five years, and supporters of the governor applaud the proposal as a creative solution. However, many have balked at the idea that Alaska might sever its longest appendage. 

“Makes us seem impotent,” said a Kenai resident who asked not to be named.  Dunleavy chief-of-staff Ben Stevens rejected such notions.  “We would still be way bigger than Texas even without the Aleutian Islands, and Russia used to own it anyway. Besides, we can finally get rid of all those dumb volcanos,” Stevens said.

Debate on the proposal is anticipated to begin in July, two months after the legislative budget response is required by law to be submitted  for approval.


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