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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Alexei Navalny’s organization outside Russia is now repudiating Lyudmila Navalnaya, Navalny’s mother, for having accepted the medical evidence and official certification that the cause of his death was an embolism, or blood clot, which stopped his heart.

On Monday, several days after the release of the post-mortem documents and of Navalny’s body to his mother’s custody,  Maria Pevchikh, Navalny’s script writer, and Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s press secretary, have repeated their allegations that Navalny had been murdered. In their revised version of the story on Monday, Pevchikh claimed in a self-produced video that “on February 16, 2024, Vladimir Putin killed Alexei Navalny”.  

Reuters, the New York-based news agency, reported Pevchikh’s claim, adding that “Maria Pevchikh, who is based outside Russia, did not present documentary evidence for her assertion.”   The New York Times amplified Pevchikh’s allegations, but omitted the Reuters qualifier.  The newspaper did not report attempting to make contact with Lyudmila Navalnaya but added this innuendo: “it remained unclear whether his family would seek to conduct an independent autopsy before his burial.”

“Alexei Navalny could be sitting in this seat right now, right today,” Pevchikh broadcast.   “That’s not a figure of speech, it could and should have happened…Navalny was supposed to be free in the coming days.” Pevchikh then recited details of a purported exchange of Russian spies in prison outside Russia in exchange for Navalny and Americans in Russian prisons.

The NATO-funded Bellingcat organization was involved, Pevchikh said. “Investigator Hristo Grozev helped us devise and implement this plan.” Negotiations took place with American and German officials, she said, but “they did nothing.” She then said:  “Roman Abramovich was the one who delivered the proposal to swap Navalny to Putin. As an informal negotiator communicating with American and European officials, and at the same time representing Putin; an unofficial channel of communication with the Kremlin.” Pevchikh claims she asked Abramovich for details of what had been told to Putin and what the president replied. “Unfortunately”, Pevchikh said, “Abramovich did not answer these questions but he did not deny anything either.”

Yarmysh followed Pevchikh with a 3-line tweet: “We know why Alexei was killed right now. He should have been exchanged literally these days. An offer was made to Putin.”  

The evidence of prisoner swaps between the US, Germany,  and Russia is no news and   corroborated officially, although the identities of the swap candidates keep changing, as do the names of the reported go-betweens. Abramovich’s role as the intermediary in the abortive Istanbul negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials of March 2022  has not been followed with any report of subsequent intermediation by Abramovich, except to save himself from sanctions.  

All that is missing from the new Pevchikh-Yarmysh announcements is the medical evidence of the cause of Navalny’s death. That is being closely held by Navalny’s mother, and she is in charge of the arrangements for his funeral.  

In her latest tweet, Yarmysh implies this too is no longer under the outside organization’s control, as it proposes an alternative, parallel ceremony. “We are looking for a hall for a public farewell to Alexei,” Yarmysh said yesterday. “Time: end of this work week. If you have suitable premises, please contact us.”  

Pevchikh is based in London; Yarmysh left Russia in 2021 and is also abroad. They are the Whites now. The Reds, Navalny’s mother and Anatoly Navalny, his father, remain in Moscow. The Reds are holding the evidence that Navalny was not murdered and that everything  the Whites are saying is false.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Two women, Kira Yarmysh (lead image, left) and Maria Pevchikh (2nd left), made up the series of lies which in August 2020 claimed that Alexei Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok by a Russian state death squad – first in a cup of tea he drank at Tomsk Airport; then in a bottle of mineral water which he drank in his hotel room; and finally in the underpants he dressed himself with before the water, before the tea.

As each of these claims proved untrue on the public evidence,  they and Navalny agreed to the release of medical data collected by the group of German doctors who treated Navalny after his admission to the Charité Clinic in Berlin on August 22, 2020. But neither data presented in the doctors’ publication in The Lancet of December 22, 2020, nor the doctors’ report itself proved that Navalny had been poisoned by Novichok. That conclusion came in press releases from the German military, and then from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

According to the Berlin doctors, “severe poisoning with a cholinesterase inhibitor was subsequently diagnosed. 2 weeks later, the German Government announced that a laboratory of the German armed forces designated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had identified an organophosphorus nerve agent from the Novichok group in blood samples collected immediately after the patient’s admission to Charité, a finding that was subsequently confirmed by the OPCW.”  

That’s a political advertisement, not a medical diagnosis – no doctor has signed his name to either, and no German military officer has signed his name to the first.

One day before The Lancet publication, on December 21, Navalny, Pevchikh and Yarmysh published their fabrication of the underpants story with the fake telephone call of an FSB agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, admitting to Navalny everything which had been disproved until that time.  The combination of fabricated evidence of the murder weapon and then of the murderer’s accomplice was repeated in the documentary film which won the Oscar award for documentary films in March 2023.  

Yarmysh was Navalny’s press spokesman in August 2020; she still is. Pevchikh was the script writer for Navalny and the channel to him from Anglo-American government agents,  as well from Russian financiers in London like Yevgeny Chichvarkin, once the Evroset mobile telephone magnate.  

If the two women had been telling the truth and Novichok had been in Navalny’s tea, water, or underpants, he would have been dead within minutes of contact. So too would Pevchikh who hand-carried the water bottle from Tomsk to Novosibirsk, then Omsk, and finally Berlin. Navalny’s blood, urine, skin, and hair, clinically tested and reported by the German doctors treating him at Charité Clinic, proved his collapse had been caused by a combination of drugs he had himself consumed.  

The two women, and other members of Navalny’s family, including his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, (3rd left) 47, his mother Lyudmila Navalnaya (right), 69, and his daughter Daria, 23,  have all refused to disclose any medical data on his prior medical conditions and the medicines he was taking before the August 2020 episode. Navalny himself gave permission to the Charité Clinic doctors in Berlin to publish their test results in The Lancet report, believing they would corroborate his story.

Following Navalny’s death on February 16, 2024, there has been no release of the medical data, nor the medicines Navalny was taking at the time of his death; the record of his vaccinations against Covid-19 which were given to him in Germany; his prior medical conditions; or the toxicology and pathology data collected in the post-mortem investigations following his death.

Russian law prohibits the release of this personal information without the permission of the senior next of kin and executor whom Navalny named in his will. He named his mother, Lyudmila. He did not name his wife, Yulia. His reason for doing that has begun to surface in Moscow. It marks infighting over the political succession to Navalny, and the money which the US has been providing to the Navalny organization.

That heirs fight over succession rights, assets and cash is commonplace. What has not yet been noticed in either the Russian or western press reporting is the document on which probate cases start the world over – the will of the deceased.

The first sign that an inheritance fight has begun is that while Lyudmila Navalnaya went to Kharp, where Navalny had been imprisoned, and Salekhard, where his body was taken for post-mortem testing, Yulia Navalnaya flew to California to meet President Joseph Biden.  Between the two political corpses, a lot of money is at stake.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

When the previous piece on the Russian art market was published early this week, an Anglo-European art critic didn’t like the independent direction this market is now forced to take. He was also angry that his personal animus towards President Vladimir Putin, the Russian army,  and the war against the US and NATO in the Ukraine was quoted. “You sound like a Putin stooge”, he added.

The source is an Englishman working in Geneva named Simon Hewitt. He is emphatic in belittling the quality of Russian painters compared to their French counterparts, and also the Russian galleries, entrepreneurs, and promoters now trying to build the Russian art market – compelled for the first time in their history to be independent of foreign aesthetics and the business of the art trade; that’s  Anglo-French aesthetics, Franco-American business,*  and the Russian oligarchs dependent on them.   

Hewitt, who has been employed to follow the Russian art auctions of Christie’s, Sotheby’s and MacDougall’s, has now become a Russia hater. “I don’t expect to be back in Russia,” he has said, “until the war is over. I imagine that the Russian army will eventually vote with its feet as it did in 1917, but my guess is that won’t be for another 18 months or so.” Hewitt’s once measured assessments of Russian painting since 2014  have been transformed into a political and military ideology, the object of which is the defeat of Russia in the war, and its collapse into another revolution.

The capitulation of Russian culture to its US and European masters is what this ideology requires – and the recapture of the Russian art market by the triad,  the name which Russian art experts give to Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and MacDougall’s.*

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

To the French artist Claude Monet goes the credit for inventing the idea of making money by producing series of paintings on the same subject – haystacks, poplar trees, church fronts, and water lilies – adding a premium for buying the series as a single lot; dubbing them with a theory of light refraction and of evanescence in the eye of the beholder; then advertising heavily in the newspapers.

Monet’s first Haystack sold for 2,500 francs ($500) in Paris in April 1891; at the time he advertised falsely that he had received double the price. In May 2019, one of his 25-piece Haystack series fetched $110.7 million in New York.*  

One isn’t obliged to appreciate Monet’s haystacks in order to appreciate the investment return which the art market is capable of producing, given the right ratio of short supply to heavy demand, plus a sustained effort at market rigging.

This is now the ambition, the calculation, and the hope of the leading fine art dealers of Moscow and St Petersburg as they devise their plan for marketing Russian painting after the sanctions war has removed Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and MacDougall’s from market competition and price fixing for Russian art and Russian art buyers.

“The word ‘Russia’ is currently unusable in the West,” says Simon Hewitt, an art market analyst in Geneva. “Russians cannot buy or sell in the West at present, period. That will remain the case for as long as Putin remains in power. I suppose a half-decent Aivazovsky will sell OK in Moscow but the more run-of-the-mill 19th century stuff will struggle to get 30% of what it was worth before Covid and will only appeal to optimists who hope that this figure might rise to 60% or so in the next decade.”

Hewitt’s lack of optimism isn’t shared by his counterparts in Moscow. They believe that in removing the “triad”, the three London auction houses from the Russian art market, the opportunity is now growing fast for Russian auction houses to achieve the house profits and rates of return for Russian art buyers which were impossible before the war.

“In the middle of 2023 the activity began picking up in the domestic market,” reports Denis Lukashin, a leading Moscow art expert and co-owner of Art Consulting, which advises Russian buyers on authentication of works and market pricing trends for individual artists. “Because Russian art was blocked in the foreign auction houses, lots of buyers came back to the Russian market. And they buy rather expensive items. Auction houses are presenting new items for public sale, which, before, were usually sold in a closed or private format.  So in the historic and fine art sector the prices are returning to the norm before February 2022. In the other genres, the owners, collectors and sellers won’t lose anything in price. I can say the prices have been rising  despite the new economic situation, and so has the demand for modern art.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Since a pack of lies about Alexei Navalny (lead image, right) won last year’s Oscar for the best documentary film of the year when he was alive,   there’s no doubt he can win another Oscar when he’s dead.  But alive or dead, the prize-winning propaganda of Navalny’s story bears no resemblance to the truth. This is what happens in wartime, especially when the side which is losing the war on the battlefield – that’s the US, NATO and the Ukraine – claims to be winning the war of words against Russia.

The Navalny story is now in two parts: Part 1, the Novichok in his airport cup of tea, in his hotel water bottle, and then in his underpants which causes Navalny’s collapse, but fails to be detected by Russian doctors in Omsk, by German doctors in Berlin and Munich, and then  by Swedish and French state laboratories. Part 2, Navalny’s sudden death after he had taken a  walk  in the IK-3 penal colony in the village of Kharp, in the Russian Arctic region of Yamalo-Nenets.  The first part took 62 reports in this archive to expose the faking;   the most telling evidence of this came from Navalny himself in the documented tests of his blood, urine and hair. According to these data, Navalny’s collapse was the outcome of an overdose of lithium, benzodiazepines, and other drugs.  

Part 2 of the Navalny story began last Friday, February 16, with the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) announcement, followed by an official telegramme to his mother in Moscow,  that he had died  just after two in the afternoon, Yamalo-Nenets time; that was just after noon Moscow time. Two hours later the Russian media began carrying the official announcement.  The wording of the last line of the announcement is significant. “The causes of death are being established”, the FSIN statement said.  Causes — plural.

In the UK coroner’s court practice, what this means is that there is likely to have been a sequence of causation, medically speaking, with the first or proximate cause of death identified as heart, brain, or lung injury or failure; and the second, intervening or contributory cause of death such as biochemical factors, including prescription drugs in lethal combination; mRNA anti-Covid vaccination triggering fatal blood clots; or homicidal poisons.   For example, in the case of the alleged Russian Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess in England in 2018, the evidence is of British government tampering with the post-mortem reports to add Novichok when it wasn’t identified at first.  

In Navalny’s case, poisoning on the order of President Vladimir Putin has already been announced  as the cause of Navalny’s death without evidence at all. The delay time required for the complicated processes of forensic pathology and toxicology to establish the evidence has been reported in the Anglo-American media to signify cover-up and body snatching.   Meduza, an oppositionist publication in Riga, reports that “a doctor who advised Navalny’s associates” has said that blood clotting was “an unlikely cause of death” – this is medically false.   

In speculation of poisoning as cause of death, there is at least as much likelihood that Navalny, his team,  and their CIA and MI6 handlers devised a repeat of the August 2020 Tomsk operation; decided when Navalny met with his lawyer at the prison on February 14; but implemented two days later without the resuscitation Navalny himself was expecting.

The Anglo-American propaganda warfare army is already pronouncing the contributory Cause 2– Putin did it — as the cause of Navalny’s death. If the Russians announce the proximate Cause 1 as cardiac arrest or brain aneurism, without a Cause 2, they won’t be believed. In the short term, Cause 2 cannot be established with credibility in Russia since it took the British government ten years, 2006-2016, to fabricate their story of Russian polonium  poisoning in the Alexander Litvinenko case. In the Russian Novichok cases in England, it has so far taken six years of court, police and pathologist proceedings, 2018-2024, without outcome, and another two years will follow.

The problem for readers to interpret what has happened is that the Anglo-American propaganda warfare machine is better at what it does than the Russian side. But then when it comes to war with guns, not words, the Russian side is far superior, as can be seen in the Ukraine right now. Accordingly, the Kremlin has decided to concentrate on the main fight. Inside Russia, it has been obvious for a long time that in or out of prison, Navalny alive was politically insignificant; now even less. The new western propaganda is as ineffectual for Russians as Navalny was himself.

And so the purpose of the propaganda is different. President Joseph Biden’s statement on Navalny’s death makes this clear. “This tragedy reminds us of the stakes of this moment.  We have to provide the funding so Ukraine can keep defending itself against Putin’s vicious onslaughts and war crimes. You know, there was a bipartisan Senate vote that passed overwhelmingly in the United States Senate to fund Ukraine. Now, as I’ve said before, and I mean this in the literal sense: History is watching.  History is watching the House of Representatives.  The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.  It’s going to go down in the pages of history.  It really is.  It’s consequential.”    

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

A book by a man announcing himself on page one as an undercover MI6 agent, dedicated on page two to “the people of Ukraine as they continue their fight for freedom”, then endorsed on the dust jacket by the Times newspaper as “first class”, can’t be fiction; it can’t be fact;  and because it declares its audience  restricted to those who already believe and don’t need persuading, it can’t be propaganda.  It’s the fourth gender in the cyber universe — transfiction, transfact, and transpropaganda, a genre created by a combination of covert insertions and circumcisions, reinforced by injections of hallucinatory substances, including money.  

This is what has become of the British these days. The book celebrates it. According to Private Eye, it is “too good to be untrue…Russia and dirty Russian money, out here in the real world, has seeped so deeply into British public life it’s not entirely certain we’ll ever get it out again.”

In this British reality, Charles Beaumont’s book, A Spy Alone,  claims to have uncovered the Kremlin plot to cause the British vote for Brexit and thereby destroy the country’s economy;  allow Russian manipulation of British energy supplies and prices;  destroy the careers of the country’s security chiefs, the  Cabinet Secretary, the National Security Advisor, and the Secret Intelligence Service; ignore and  discredit the intelligence uncovered by MI6 field agents and Bellingcat; and allow Russian assassins to roam across the UK,  killing as they go.

All of this, according to author and hero, amounts to “one of [the Russian government’s] deepest secrets”, “the intelligence coup of the century”, “one of the great revelations in intelligence history”, and “the most important intelligence discovery in Britain since the end of the Cold War”.  In short, this does for Britain what the former MIG agent, Christopher Steele (lead image centre) and his Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, claimed to do, and still does, to US presidential elections and Donald Trump in the fabrications of the Russiagate affair.  

In fact, this new book may be Steele’s attempt to repeat Russiagate in England,  reverse the rulings of the courts against his veracity, and make more money. For Charles Beaumont (lead image, right)  is not the author’s real name; the publisher has published an Artificial Intelligence illustration instead of a real face, and since the book purports to be “Beaumont’s” “first novel”, there is no trace of him in the open sources, not even for Bellingcat to find.  “The blurb says [Beaumont] is ex-MI6, but then it would, or he would,” comments a source in a position to know. “If I were choosing a pseudonym I don’t think I’d pick one that already belonged to an – admittedly very different – writer.” The source believes “Beaumont” is working in the business intelligence business.

Private Eye has told its readers to buy “Beaumont” because he “shows how powerful a book can be when the writer looks the country straight in the face and writes about what they see. Le Carré used to be very good at doing that. Now Charles Beaumont has done it too.”  

Amazon, the world’s largest publisher and bookseller, lacks confidence this is either Russiagate or Le Carré quality. Despite 1,568 ratings as “terrific”, “brilliant”, “stunningly accomplished”, and “scarily plausible”, Amazon is marking the book down to clear at a 50% discount. That’s a steal, not a pun on the real plot in this story.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The history of Russian sex after the fall of Communist Party rule in 1991 hasn’t been told yet. And it won’t be.

This is because sex between Russians during the Soviet period was a public taboo – its history has been written down as a party and police problem, and buried as a relic of the past.    Then in the period of shock therapy which followed during the US-backed Yeltsin administration, Russian sex became a commercial commodity, like everything else.  Russian women became prostitutes selling sex, and Russian men who lacked the cash to pay for their time missed out. This is known as one of the liberal reforms.

When the heart is excluded from sex, there’s nothing of value to record for posterity, at least nothing of Russian particularity.

It was also during this period that on account of the money value of access to their sexual parts, Russian women began to say, quite clearly, that for their lovers (or clients) they preferred American Jews because, they said, Russian men were reluctant to pay and violent when asked,  whereas American Jews were neither — or so the women said. But the women were just   catching up. Russian men, starting from Mikhail Gorbachev and descending downwards, had long displayed their desire to be loved by Americans, and to be paid in return, handsomely. Wanting to be loved by Americans (and Israelis) is a continuing reflex of Russian men; the posture of bending over to receive the love can’t be reported in the history books by the term  handsome, unless it’s accompanied by gender reversal. About that, Russians of both sexes are emphatically hostile.  

The Russian women’s idea of Jews as non-violent, or at least less violent than Russian men, has been turned  on its head — wrong organ — by Russian politicians who have celebrated their Israeli counterparts for their lack of inhibition in using violence, not only against the Arabs, but against their women.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Twice already the warning of the obvious has been posted in the money markets — Israel cannot survive a long war with the Arabs and Iran.

In this long war, the gods do not favour the Chosen People, it was reported on October 27, three weeks after the Hamas offensive began.   The decline in Israel’s export earnings from tourism and diamonds; the loss of imported supplies for manufacturing and consumption from the Houthi blockade of the Red Sea; and increasing risk to both imports and exports at the Mediterranean ports within range of Hamas and Hezbollah strikes were identified at that time.

The international ratings agencies, Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poors, postponed announcing the obvious for as long as they could.

In attrition war, on the economic front just like the Gaza and other fire fronts, the Axis of Resistance wins by maintaining its offensive capacities and operations for longer than the US and US-backed Israeli forces can defend. Like troops, tanks, and artillery pieces, the operational goal is to grind the enemy slowly but surely into retreat, then capitulation. Last week, Moody’s had already decided in-house to downgrade Israel; for several days senior management fended off a ferocious attack from Israeli officials and their supporters in the US trying to compel postponement of the downgrade and the analytical report  substantiating it.

On February 6, in a review of the shekel, bond, credit default swaps (CDS), budget deficit, and other indicators, the conclusion was there could be no stopping the money markets from moving against Israel.  Negative ratings from the agencies raise the cost of servicing Israel’s state and corporate bonds, and put pressure on the state budget. A ratings downgrade is a signal to the markets to go negative against the issuer – this usually comes after the smart money has changed its mind and direction.  In Israel’s case, however, there has been an exceptional delay between negative outlook and downgrade.  The last Fitch report on Israel was dated October 17; Moody’s followed on October 19; Standard & Poors (S&P) on October 24.  

That Israeli and US tactics had forced postponement of new reports from the troika was obvious. A fresh warning was published on this website: as real estate and other tax collections collapse, Israel will have to make a large cash call on the US.  This is going to come in the near future, just as the government in Kiev has been forced into calling on Congress as the Ukraine war is being lost. The longer both wars are protracted, the more obviously the loss of confidence expresses itself in Washington.  

Moody’s has now caught up.  According to the Israeli press, this is the first credit and currency downgrade in their country’s history.  

In a report dated last Friday but not issued until Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, the agency officially reduced Israel’s rating from A1 to A2, and added pointers of further downgrading to come. The Anglo-American press immediately reacted against Moody’s. “Israel hits back”, the Financial Times headlined.  The newspaper added: “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, in a rare statement over the Jewish Sabbath, said: ‘The rating downgrade is not connected to the economy, it is entirely due to the fact that we are in a war. The rating will go back up the moment we win the war — and we will win the war.’” In the Associated Press report, “Israel’s finance minister blasts Moody’s downgrade”.   Rupert Murdoch’s platform Fox claimed: “Israel has a strong, open economy despite Moody’s downgrade”.  “Israel’s creditworthiness remains high,” according to the New York Times, “but the rating agency noted that the outlook for the country was negative… A rating of A2 is still a high rating.”  

The press release version of Moody’s report is republished verbatim so that its meaning can be understood without the propaganda.

Three points have been missed in the Anglo-American counterattack and Israeli government’s bluster. The first is the warning that Israel will soon have to request enormous cash backing from the US, and if there is any sign of weakening on that in Washington, the collapse of the Israeli economy and its capacity to continue its war is inevitable. The Moody’s report camouflaged the point this way: “The related issuances benefit from an irrevocable, on-demand guarantee provided by the Government of the United States of America (Aaa negative) with the government acting through USAID. The notes benefit explicitly from ‘the full faith and credit of the US’ and as per prospectus, USAID is obligated to pay within three business days if the guarantee is called upon.”

The second point strikes at announcements from Israel Defence Forces (IDF) generals and Netanyahu of their plan to expand their operations on the northern front – the Litani River ultimatum they called it in December. According to Moody’s report, “downside risks remain at the A2 rating level. In particular, the risk of an escalation involving Hezbollah in the North of Israel remains, which would have a potentially much more negative impact on the economy than currently assumed under Moody’s baseline scenario. Government finances would also be under more intense pressure in such a scenario.”

The third point is the most explosive. After cutting Israel’s rating to A2, Moody’s warned that further and deeper downgrades may follow, but that there is presently no way the ratings agency can predict what will happen next. “The ongoing military conflict with Hamas, its aftermath and wider consequences materially raise political risk for Israel as well as weaken its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength, for the foreseeable future.”

In flagging those last four words – “for the foreseeable future” — Moody’s has told the markets  that the strategic initiative in this war has now passed to the Axis of Resistance. Of course, the Arabs and Iranians already know.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

All’s fair in love and war – this  is a 500-year old English proverb but it isn’t in the Geneva conventions on war crimes and genocide, much as the US and US-backed Israel claim it is.   

In the war of US, NATO and their Asian allies against Russia, it is turning out that almost all the major companies on the enemy side love Russia too much to leave.

They also think Russia has won the war, so they are convinced — the executive managers,  boards of directors, control shareholders, and bankers — that there is no point in leaving. So they continue to do business in the Russian market profitably, while they wait for the military defeat of the Ukraine and their own governments to register, and the terms of capitulation allow them to tell their shareholders, “we told you so.”

That notice will be delivered with a dividend paid out of the profits the companies continue to earn from their Russian businesses. The shareholders will be satisfied with both; they will vote their confidence, with a bonus, for the chief executive and board at the next Annual General Meeting.

Two studies on the enemy side, one by the Kiev School of Economy’s (KSE) “Leave Russia”  and “SelfSanctions” projects, and a follow-up by the Russian-language publication Novaya Gazeta Europa have reported results of their surveys of 110 international firms working in Russia. This is fresh evidence of the defeat of the enemy in the economic war — from the foxhole of the enemy.

The survey results demonstrate that after two years of intense pressure and threat campaigns by the US, NATO and the Ukraine for the companies to wind up their Russian businesses and leave  Russia, the outcome is defeat.  

KSE claims this work has been done by “a team of Ukrainian IT volunteers;” the Yale University’s School of Management collaborated with data on the companies. Volunteer doesn’t  mean what it seems in Ukrainian. The funding for the operation has come through KSE’s money suppliers, which include several Ukrainian ministries, whose funding comes in turn from the International Monetary Fund, the US, and the European Union (EU).  “KSE Institute’s clients”, the institution’s website says of its paymasters, “also include the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, the European Business Association, and a number of large law and development companies. Among the international partner organizations are USAID, UK aid, DFID, the embassies of the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, the EBRD, the World Bank, the EU Commission, IFC, WHO, UNDP, GIZ, UNICEF, Yale School of Management and others.”

KSE’s “SelfSanctions” project is paid for by another group of “partners” including George Soros, government-backed organizations in Germany, Norway, Taiwan, and Poland, and a Ukrainian entity called “Squeezing Putin”.    This takes US and other intelligence material, feeds it to the Anglo-American media, and then identifies the media reports as corroboration of the process for sanctioning companies which remain in Russia and are attacked in the press as an “international sponsor of war”.  

KS adds a note of self-importance: “Kyiv School of Economics holds the first place among the most powerful economic analytical institutions of Ukraine according to the RePEc rating.”   

The importance, the breaking news, is that, according to the newly published evidence, 82.7% of the international companies surveyed have dismissed KSE, its foreign state financiers, and its economic warfare projects as a failure – and their shareholders concur.

This is how the Maidan cookie crumbles.

The Russian report by Novaya Gazeta Europa, officially identified by the Russian government media monitor as a foreign agent, was published on February 6. It appears on the Russian website of the publication; not on its English website. The publication attaches this notice: “Military censorship has been introduced in Russia. Independent journalism is banned. We continue to work because we know that our readers remain free people. Novaya Gazeta Europa reports only to you and depends only on you. Help us to remain the antidote to dictatorship – support us with money.”

Unlike the international companies it is reporting on, Novaya Gazeta Europa has left Russia, and is based in Riga, Latvia.

A summary report of the same material appeared on the same day in The Bell. This is also a foreign agent publication; since 2019 it is reportedly  financed by the oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov; follow his business practices here.  Prokhorov has become an Israeli citizen and lives in that country.   

The Russian text has been translated verbatim; illustrations have been added for clarification.

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Source: https://novayagazeta.eu/

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“If you work quietly, no one will come for you” — we have studied the cases of 110 foreign companies doing business in Russia despite the war. That’s why they never left.
By Denis Morozhin

The Russian authorities like to talk about how foreign companies only pretend to leave Russia, and if they do leave, they will certainly return. As the Novaya-Europa study shows, foreign business gives the Kremlin reasons for such statements. Of the 110 largest foreign companies which continue to operate in Russia, 51 were not even going to leave, and another 40 changed their minds or were unable to sell their assets at a bargain price. We tell you about the five main strategies that allow them to stay in the country during the war.

Shortly after February 24, four global tobacco giants that divided the Russian market among themselves — Japan Tobacco, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands — made the most radical statements about working in Russia: ‘We will leave the country, we will sell the business.’ Back in 2022,  the sources of Novaya Europa assessed these plans extremely skeptically. “At least the largest tobacco companies will definitely not leave, why would they do that? Do you think that if Philip Morris does not close the factory near St. Petersburg, people in Indonesia or Brazil will stop buying Marlboros to take revenge on those who sold themselves to Putin and pay taxes for the war?” one of the insiders of this market said at the time.

Almost two years after the outbreak of a full-scale war, it turned out that this forecast has largely come true. Not only tobacco companies (of which only British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands have left), but also many other major companies continue to work in Russia despite all their promises and even despite the title of ‘sponsors of war’ assigned to them in Ukraine. It was the market leader, Japan Tobacco, who explained the continuation of work at the end of 2023 as follows: we do not want to “deprive consumers of the product they are used to.” At the same time, according to Novaya-Europa, back in the summer of 2022, this manufacturer was negotiating a sale, and its corporate statements confirmed this.

By the beginning of 2024, it became clear: some do not leave, because they know that if they anger the Russian authorities even a little bit, they will lose key assets and a lot of money. The second is just fine in Russia, they have no reason to lose a profitable business, and now they have even stopped hiding it — although they promised to leave the market. Still others, whose example is certain warning for others, did not want to come out on the Kremlin’s terms, went into conflict with the authorities — and lost everything. The fourth, looking at the first three groups, just remain silent and work quietly all these two years.

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Source: https://novayagazeta.eu/

Novaya Gazeta Europa studied the cases of 110 foreign companies which either worked in Russia in 2023 or left the market no later than the second half of 2023. We took the 50 largest foreign companies according to the Forbes 2023 rating and added to them firms from the Novaya Europa rating compiled last year of the top 100 foreign companies by net profit in Russia in 2022 (minus those who completed their exit from the country before July 2023).

It has turned out that these companies can be divided into five categories depending on their operating strategies in Russia.

We have called the largest group, which included 51 companies, “Wait it out in silence.” At best, they have expressed concern about the outbreak of a full-scale war, or they have simply remained silent. Some of them have explicitly said that they would continue to work. Among those who still adhere to this model of behaviour are Auchan, Metro, Calzedonia, Ecco, Benetton, Ehrmann, TotalEnergies, Rockwool, Mitsui, and major pharmaceutical companies.

According to our calculations, in 2022 – the reports for 2023 have not yet been published — they have received a total net profit of 448 billion rubles.

The second largest group, in which we included 40 firms, are those which promised to sell their business, leave the market, reduce investments and abandon development plans in Russia – this is the “Promise and not leave” strategy.  As a result, they retained a variety of assets in the country: production, retail chains, brands, service or supplies. Examples include BP, JTI, PMI, Pepsico, Mars, Nestle, Raiffeisen, UniCredit, Intesa, ABB, Bacardi, Campari. This group is smaller in number, but larger in total profit — 669.6 billion rubles. We have identified three companies in a separate group (Leroy Merlin, Decathlon, Adidas) which have retained their brands in Russia on one condition or another — in fact, they “left without leaving.” All of these companies did not disclose profits for 2022.

Two small groups, in each of which we have included 8 companies, have adopted the strategies of “Sitting until the last” and “Losing everything”. Those who stayed (with a total profit of 43 billion rubles) promised to leave the market, but sold the business only in the second half of 2023, usually at a discount and on unfavourable terms. These are Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, Ingka Group (shopping centre investor), AB InBev, Veon.

The same number also went into confiscation or external management because they quarrelled with the Russian authorities or became, according to the Kremlin, a “compensation fund” – held for potential offset if the West fails to compensate for its seizure of Russian assets abroad — Danone, Carlsberg, Fortum and others with a total net profit of 48.8 billion rubles.

According to the calculations of Novaya-Europa, the leaders in choosing the first two strategies, which involve maintaining business in Russia, are companies from the United States, a total of 20 of them. Germany is in second place with 14 firms (12 of them are “silently waiting it out”), Italy is in third place with 11.

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Source: https://novayagazeta.eu/

The strategy of “sitting it out and keeping business” shows that foreign companies have verbally condemned the war. In fact, however, it is more important for them to preserve the opportunity to earn in a large and growing market. These earnings probably outweigh the potential problems in Western consumer markets for them. It is in order to create such difficulties for companies that the Ukrainian authorities have created a register of “International Sponsors of War”, which at the end of January includes 48 companies (31 of them from countries that the Russian authorities call “unfriendly”).

Since mid-2023, some companies on this list have begun to face corporate boycotts in the West. However, this has turned out to be very localized and has so far mainly manifested itself in the Scandinavian countries. For example, Swedish SAS has decided to stop feeding passengers with Mondelez and Nestle products, as well as drinking Pepsico soda and Bacardi alcohol.

Other consumers in Sweden and Norway, in particular, the railway company, the ferry carrier Tallink and others, began to refuse Mondelez chocolate. “At the same time, Mondelez is holding up for now,” a Russian lawyer who specializes in international trade said in a conversation with Novaya—Europa. In Finland, the VR rail carrier and Finnair airline have said they may reject Nestle and Unilever products.

Ukraine has included all these companies in the list of sponsors of the war, but it is still difficult to judge the economic consequences of the boycotts, because they began very recently. None of the companies has yet claimed damage from these measures.

Hostages and “calculating men”

Many companies found themselves in the position of hostages of the Kremlin, and these are both those who promised to leave Russia, but did not do so, and those who remained silent for two years, say the sources of Novaya Europa. “They are forced to work in Russia and have become an offset fund which the Russian authorities need to exchange for Russian assets blocked abroad,” an expert from one of the major analytical companies believes.

He explains the status of “hostages” by the mass of restrictions imposed on foreign firms, which deprive them of the chance to exit without serious losses for the business. In particular, bankruptcy is prohibited, and if there are signs of premeditated bankruptcy, then managers face criminal liability.

Assets can be sold at a discount of 50% of their current estimated value, which is now very low. And most importantly, you need to get a sale transaction  permit through a special commission, which reviews and agrees to an average of one or two transactions per month, the expert notes.

Among the global giants who tried, but could not sell their factories in Russia on favourable terms, but did not want to lose everything, the experts identify Mitsubishi Motors, ABB, General Electric — all of them have stopped production in Russia.

But there is also a directly opposite group — the “calculating ones” who understand perfectly well that their position in the market is such that they can safely continue working in Russia. If the Kremlin takes their assets to bargain with the West, it will cause problems for the economy.

Despite the fact that the state, after the outbreak of a full-scale war, has learned to take away private business from owners, the authorities simply cannot nationalize some companies, otherwise that will be a “shot in the foot,” our sources say. Tobacco concerns are an example of this, according to our industry sources. Of the four largest cigarette manufacturers represented in Russia, Russian assets have been sold to British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, while Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris are in no hurry.

“Let’s imagine that Putin took Russian factories from Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris, just as he confiscated the assets of Carlsberg and Danone. And then it is possible that factories in Russia will have serious problems with the supply of raw materials. Tobacco plantations, of course, do not belong to cigarette manufacturers. But global concerns still know how to interact with plantation owners who can meet the global giants halfway and arrange problems with the supply of tobacco raw materials to Russia,” says a source of Novaya-Europa, who knows this industry well.

At the same time, he adds, tobacco raw materials are produced, among other countries, in China: “But there is another tobacco, though it is not very suitable for our factories. And China, even though it is our friend, will also not want to quarrel with the West. And what happens when cigarettes run out in the stores, Putin and his friends should remember perfectly well, because in 1990 and 1991, because of such a shortage, people blocked Nevsky Prospekt in the president’s hometown”. Anatoly Chubais recalled such a riot – there was similar unrest in Moscow and other cities.

The Russian market for worldwide global tobacco manufacturers is at least number two in global size, so it cannot be lost, says another source in the industry. “They want to sit here until the last moment and earn money”,  he thinks. For example, Japan Tobacco earned a fifth of its $3 billion in net profit for 2022 — or $645 million — in Russia (43.5 billion rubles, recalculated at the average ruble exchange rate of 67.46 to the dollar). At the same time, its ruble profit in Russia in 2022 increased by one and a half times compared to 2021.

At the same time, Philip Morris earned $787 million (53.1 billion rubles) in Russia in 2022 — about 5.4% of its total net profit of $9.05 billion in the same year. Its Russian net profit increased by a third in the first year of the war.

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Stand with a drink replacing Coca-Cola at a grocery store in Moscow, June 10, 2022. After Coca-Cola announced the termination of its business in Russia, the new product has already appeared on the shelves of Moscow supermarkets. Bela Cola, produced in Belarus, was previously available only in some regions of Russia. It is reported that since February 2022, imports of carbonated beverages to Russia have increased by 50 percent. Photo by Vlad Karkov / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Promising does not mean leaving

Among those who spoke about their intentions to leave the market, but have remained while  only partially reducing their presence, there are many global producers of what you can eat and drink. These include both of the world’s main suppliers of non-alcoholic soda, as well as both of the largest alcohol sellers, Bacardi and Campari Group.

It is noteworthy that all these companies (as well as Mars, Nestle, Procter& Gamble, Mondelez and others) have behaved in approximately the same way. In the early days of the war, they issued fairly similar statements about the suspension of some operations in Russia (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campari).

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Source: https://contact.pepsico.com/

By the beginning of the third year of the war, in reality there their business has been preserved. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have left their production facilities in Russia and are making money on local brands, removing the global brands from the market. Campari has only slightly reduced its sales in Russia (according to Kommersant, through its Russian subsidiary  in January–July 2023, this concern imported 3.12 million litres of alcohol against 3.58 million litres a year earlier).

A most interesting thing has happened with Bacardi: immediately after the outbreak of the war, the world’s largest family-owned alcohol company announced that supplies to Russia had been stopped and investments had been frozen. But in August 2023, The Wall Street Journal drew attention to the fact that these promises had disappeared from the statement on the company’s website. Bacardi not only kept supplies, but also continued to pour William Lawson’s whiskey in Russia.

“They are a non-public company, and they can afford to say that if there is no direct ban, then all this does not concern them. The fact that Bacardi’s headquarters are located in Bermuda helps them behave this way, and they can always say: ‘We are not an American company and we decide who we work with.’ Although in other situations they may associate themselves with the United States, where they have a large division,” said a source in the alcohol industry. Bacardi, as well as Campari, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo did not respond to questions for this article.

The predominantly American businesses have turned out to be much more cynical about the war, says Ivan Fedyakov, CEO of the INFOLine analytical agency. “European companies are afraid of a consumer boycott, which can cause significant damage to business. For Americans, the conflict with Ukraine is far away from them,” he says. If the conflict flares up more sharply, then American companies may remember that they pay taxes in Russia, but for now they are waiting for the pendulum to swing in whatever direction, the expert argues.

Another striking example of such a strategy is the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank. At the beginning of the full-scale war, the bank, like dozens of companies, published a cautious statement — this has now been deleted from the bank’s website, but has remained in the Wayback archive — about leaving Russia “under strict control.” After that, the bank repeatedly told the public about various exit strategies, including the separation or sale of the business, but repeatedly postponed the date for a possible transaction. However, as Reuters wrote at the end of 2023, citing Austrian officials, Austria itself is not interested in this: the government does not want to completely cut off relations with Moscow, because it still hopes for their resumption. And besides, Vienna wants to remain a “hub for money” that goes between Russia and Eastern Europe, Reuters concluded.

“Raiffeisen hopes that a possible change in the geopolitical situation will allow it to stay and work as before,” a member of the board of one of the Russian banks told Novaya-Europa. At the same time, the Russian business, according to the results for the first nine months of 2023, brought the Austrian bank half of its global profit (1.024 billion euros out of 2.114 billion euros). If you try to leave Russia without the consent of the authorities, then “you can only write everything off to zero, and also face arrest,” a source of Novaya-Europa in Western banking circles is sure.

At the same time, Raiffeisen is a systemically important bank in Austria — it holds the first place in terms of assets and a market share of 17%. The Austrian authorities would be forced to support such a financial institution if it has problems. And the loss of a huge business in Russia is quite capable of triggering such hypothetical difficulties, our banking source argues. It is unlikely that the Austrian authorities want to solve the problem of recapitalization of the giant bank.

Work and keep quiet

“We have a cynical opinion in the industry that the main reason is revenue. The Russian market may account for even a small share of their income, but in absolute numbers it’s still a lot of money,” explains the strategy of a manager of one of the largest food companies in Russia. “And if you work quietly, then no one will come for you,” says the source.  He cites another reason why companies are “working quietly” without talking aloud about an exit: “The risk of asset loss. The illustrative cases are known; if the business is selected [by the authorities to make an example for others], then no one will help.”

Among those who chose the “work and keep quiet” strategy, the most notable are the giant retail chains: German Metro, French Auchan, as well as the Leroy Merlin network, presumably related to Auchan (both of them, as well as the Decathlon network, are owned by the French family company Mulliez). Auchan, Leroy Merlin and some other European companies are in no hurry, because for them leaving the Russian market will be more painful than a possible boycott or public opinion, says one of the industry sources.

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Left: one of the LeRoy Merlin stores in Russia; right, Gérard Mulliez, patriarch of the family owning LeRoy Merlin, Auchan, Decathlon and other retail chains operating in Russia.  

In December 2023, the data of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities showed that the owner of Leroy Merlin had changed:  it became the company Scenari Holding LP from the United Arab Emirates. The market does not believe this. One of our industry sources, who asked not to be named, believes that in fact the French owners could have retained control of the network. He explains this by saying that Leroy Merlin, with 112 hypermarkets in Russia, which tops the Russian Forbes ranking of foreign companies by revenue, is too large an asset to be sold to an unknown company. The source recalls that until 2022, Leroy Merlin had more than a quarter of its revenue generated in Russia;  losing that would mean dealing a severe blow to the business.

Two more examples of “changing signage” are Decathlon and Adidas. The first one sold its  chain to the Russian company ARM (previously it specialized in the restaurant business), which opened stores under the name Desport. They sell products of the same brands as in the “old” Decathlon — the Desport online catalogue confirms this.

Adidas exited very cleverly. It subleased some of its stores to Lamoda, retaining its legal entity in Russia, and now sells its products through an official Russian distributor.

The illusion of return for energy production  

The Kremlin has managed to show foreign companies that those who insist on their rights will lose everything. In particular, Shell, an oil and gas producer, and Carlsberg, a brewer, have faced this. The result is that only the one who knows how to negotiate retains assets or is allowed to leave Russia with money. Other companies from the same industries, oil and gas and beer, have succeeded: BP, TotalEnergies and Heineken.

Shell has been producing and liquefying gas on Sakhalin for 15 years and selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asian markets, mainly to neighbouring Japan. Then a full-scale war broke out – and the concern, which had been friends with the Kremlin for decades, was one of the first to announce that it would withdraw from all enterprises in Russia. Moreover, it did this without equivocation, issuing a harsh statement on the fourth day of the invasion of Ukraine, on February 28, 2022.

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Source: https://www.shell.com/ -- March 8, 2022

Perhaps that is why Vladimir Putin by his decree dated  June 30, 2022, effectively  took away 27.5% of the LNG plant on Sakhalin from Shell. Formally speaking, according to this decree, the Kremlin took the plant from all its shareholders, including Gazprom (50%),  Japanese Mitsui (12.5%) and Mitsubishi (10%) – the latter are representatives of the “sit and wait” strategy — and transferred the enterprise to a specially created Russian company,  Sakhalin Energy. Of course, the Japanese and Gazprom agreed to become its shareholders. Shell refused this honour.

The refusal of the Anglo-Dutch company meant that, according to the same presidential decree, Shell’s share had to be sold, and the money blocked inside Russia in a Type C account. In the spring of 2023, the Russian government allowed Novatek to buy this block of shares. Novatek is the second gas producer in Russia after Gazprom and the Kremlin’s great hope for conquering the global LNG market. Its export is critically important for the budget of Russia, which is under an oil embargo due to the war.

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In the spring of 2023, Kommersant reported that Novatek co-owner Leonid Mikhelson (right) asked Putin to allow Shell to withdraw $1.16 billion from Russia for the sale of the stake in the Sakhalin plant – and Putin, according to the newspaper, gave such consent. The deal is still in limbo and probably not completed, two sources in the oil and gas market told Novaya-Europa: they say they do not know whether Novatek will receive the share and Shell will receive the money. “In fact, [Shell] hasn’t left”, one of the sources said. One of the proofs of this, he believes, is that the stock quotes of Novatek “have not yet gained value on the entry into Sakhalin-2 in any way.” In the database of Spark legal entities, information about the shareholders of Sakhalin Energy is classified.

When asked by Novaya-Europa whether the company received money for the asset, Shell’s press office noted that they have nothing to add to what is written about this in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the company’s website. This says: “We reserve all our legal rights in relation to our share of 27.5% (minus one share) in the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company.” That is to say, the share in the very company from which Putin took the plant last year.

One of our sources in the oil and gas market believes that this statement of the company can be interpreted as follows: Shell considers the nationalization illegal and may well sue the Kremlin to protect its rights to the asset. At the same time, in December 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak did not confirm that the Shell and Novatek deal had been completed.

But Shell’s competitors, British BP and French TotalEnergies, did not issue loud statements and did not promise to protect their shareholder rights. And as a result, they have retained their assets in Russia. TotalEnergies’ strategy is to continue making money from LNG production together with Novatek, in which it owns a 19.4% stake. In addition, the French concern owns stakes in Arctic gas projects jointly with Novatek.

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Total’s map of its joint Arctic gas projects with Novatek, 2018

BP has carefully assured the public that “we continue to consider options for completing our exit.” At the same time, the company is well aware that it cannot sell 19.75% of its Rosneft shares due to the restrictions imposed in Russia. “It does not count on the imminent end of the war and normalization of relations, and therefore it does not think to sit it out”, a former manager of the oil company familiar with the situation told Novaya-Europa; he asked not to be named. In this situation, all BP could do has been to limit itself to “honest deconsolidation – it does not show this asset in the financial  reports, displaying the subtraction from the point of view of the market. This is why its production, reserves, cash flows all fell,” he added. BP did not respond to a request for comment.

“Our business was stolen in Russia”

In the beer industry, there are also both nonconformists and skilful diplomats. The second obviously includes Heineken, which, according to our source in this market, “came to the authorities and said that the company was ready to leave on your terms, but with some money, bring your buyer, they say — the main point was that he was neutral and not under sanctions.” As a result, it was bought by the Russian concern Arnest, which in September 2022 bought three Russian factories for the production of aluminum cans from the American Ball Corporation.  

Carlsberg, our source claims, was not ready to accept such conditions, and wanted to choose a buyer itself, and “from the point of view of the government behaved unconstructively.”  As a result, Heineken earned at least a little on leaving: Arnest repaid the debt of its Russian subsidiary for €100 million. However, Baltika, owned by Carlsberg, came under the external control of the state. In response, the Danish concern stated that “our business was stolen in Russia.”

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Source: https://www.reuters.com/

“Now, if this situation can be resolved, it is only at the level of heads of state and interstate negotiations. And since they are impossible now, it seems that Carlsberg will have to forget about the Russian asset,” says our source in the industry. At the same time, according to his information, Arnest was ready to buy the Russian business of both brewing companies (and Carlsberg in June 2023 even managed, without specifying the buyer, to announce that it had already signed an agreement on the sale of the business), but did not receive the Kremlin’s consent to Baltika.

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Denmark’s share of total Russian assets frozen or seized in the EU as of April 2022 was very small. The data tabulation was reported by the Irish Times from a leaked internal EU document and appeared on April 21, 2022.

We are waiting until the last bell  

The list of Novaya Europa includes eight companies which  announced the sale of their Russian assets only at the end of the second year of a full-scale war. Almost all of them, except for the Belgian brewing company AB InBev, managed to come to an agreement with the Russian authorities and received consent to the deal.

Turkish Anadolu Efes, the owner of half of one of Russia’s largest brewing companies AB InBev Efes, has announced the purchase of the second half from its partner, the world’s largest beer producer AB InBev. The deal announcement emphasizes that the completion of the transaction can be discussed only after its approval by the regulatory authorities. Nothing has been reported that the Russian authorities have given such consent.

AB InBev announced its intention to sell its stake a long time ago — two months after the start of the war. The deal could not be completed for so long, not because the Belgians could not come to an agreement with the Russian authorities, but because “it is a matter of dividing the business at the international level between AB InBev and Anadolu Efes,” says our source in the beer market. And besides, the departure of the Belgian company turned out to be very conditional: AB InBev managed to leave without leaving, because it owns 24% of the shares of Anadolu Efes. This means that the European brewer will continue to earn money on the Russian beer market, but will retain its reputation.

Among the automakers, Hyundai, Kia and Volvo were late at the exit.  Their competitors have already sold factories — but these three concerns were in no hurry to get to the end.  At the end of the year Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia, which owned 70% and 30% of the automobile plant in St. Petersburg, received consent to sell their enterprise to the Russian company Art Finance LLC. The Russian authorities said Hyundai would have a two-year option to buy back. And in the third quarter of 2023, Volvo reported  it had received permission to sell its truck manufacturing plant in Kaluga, which has since managed to change several owners.

Next to exit

The lawyers interviewed by Novaya-Europa, who are familiar with the plans of the global companies in Russia, do not have a consensus view on how this process will develop further. Some believe that under pressure from public opinion, companies will continue to try to leave. Others believe that everyone who wanted to has left already;  the rest have adapted to the new conditions and learned how to earn money in them.

“They will try to get rid of the assets, as the pressure on them is strong,” says one of the lawyers working in Russia,  who asked not to be named. And they will do this not because of money, because “there is little economic sense in selling assets, money can’t be withdrawn from Russia anyway,” but “it’s more about social responsibility, reputation, and so on.” At the same time, he believes, “there are those who hope to return to the market which is large and attractive. Bridges are not being burned – they are maintained, and will be preserved. But these are not the same bridges, of course. It won’t be the same as before.”

But not everyone will be able to return: “In the case of someone who has already quarrelled,  they will not return here,” the lawyer said, and cited the example of Siemens, which completely withdrew from the energy, engineering and financial business in Russia in 2022, selling assets and stopping supplies and service.

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Source: https://assets.new.siemens.com/  -- May 12, 2022

Yegor Noskov, managing partner of the lawfirm, Duvernois Legal,  has a different point of view. Those who decided in the spring of 2022 that their image losses from continuing to work in Russia exceeded their possible profits have left. “Other companies have found that the profits generated from the Russian market are too significant for their business and exceed image losses, and remain on the market, making record profits”, says the lawyer, and cites Raiffeisen as an example.

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This configuration will continue in 2024, Noskov believes: “I think those who left will not return until the end of the military operations, and perhaps not for a long while after.” And those who remain will not sell their business, but will adapt to the situation using either other brands or all kinds of schemes allowing them to maintain a presence in the market, but avoid direct affiliation of the Russian assets with the parent companies abroad, Noskov says.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The Axis of Resistance — that’s the Arab militaries with Iran and in the background, Russia – knows how to wage economic warfare against the US and its proxy, Israel. The Houthi sanctions on shipping, for example, are showing more effectiveness in stopping Israel-bound or Israel-linked vessels in the Red Sea than US sanctions have been to block Russian oil shipments.

In attrition war, on the economic front just like the Gaza and other fire fronts, the Axis of Resistance wins by maintaining its offensive capacities and operations for longer than the US and US-backed Israeli forces can defend. Like troops, tanks, and artillery pieces, the operational goal is to grind the enemy slowly but surely into retreat, then capitulation.

How to measure if this is happening now to the Israelis in the international money markets?

An international currency and bond trader answers by providing, first, a primer for each of the market indicators, and how to read them; and then a ready reckoner for the damage being done to Israel’s economic resources as those who operate in the money markets gauge their opportunity.

For making money, you see, the opportunity of capitalizing on Israel’s defeat may soon be more profitable than investing in its success. When the markets see this chance at profit-making, usually long before the politicians and their captive media acknowledge it, there is an inflection point in the flow of money. That does its damage, not by hitting the Israelis and Americans in their bunkers with bullets and bombs, but by moving the money the US-backed Israeli entity needs out of reach, and cutting them off, both the US and Israel,  from market confidence that they can win their war, genocide or not.

(more…)