Suppose, just suppose, that the real reason for running $50 billion in Russia’s Central Bank cash reserves through the accounts of a shelf company registered in the Channel Islands, was not to hide the money from foreigners intent on seizing state assets, but rather to hide from Russians trying to steal them.
And suppose, just suppose, that those Russians were high officials of the state.
How awkward indeed it would be for Victor Gerashchenko, current and former chairman of the Central Bank, to write a letter to Michel Camdessus, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to explain what he’d been doing in the Channel Islands. (more…)
Until the thunder strikes, the Russian saying goes, the peasant won’t cross himself.
Neither cross nor double-cross is what the Russian government claims it did when the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, most recently flew from Athens to Russia, then back to Athens, and then towards Minsk, only to be turned back.
According to the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service Vladimir Putin, the question of admitting Ocalan to Russia, or refusing him, was never directly considered by the President nor the Prime Minister of Russia. They, Putin seemed to be saying, have no responsibility for what has happened to Ocalan. (more…)
What leads fine performers of Bach cello sonatas, Rachmaninov piano concertos, and Chekhov plays and stories to imagine they can enter Russian politics as nimbly as they move their fingers over their instruments and scores?
One answer Rostropovich the cellist, Petrov the pianist, and Mikhalkov the film-maker have given is that they have the right, and also the duty, to their country and to their countrymen, to speak the truth to power. In the revolutionary times we’ve been living through, and in a democracy, it’s not just artists who have this right. Everyone does, there are fewer Who feel and implement this duty, but artists are hardly exceptional.
Just so, when Russian artists speak to power as they do, using their reputation as their platform, they are not necessarily better equipped than anyone else to know the truth of which they speak. Rostropovich probably didn’t mean to demonstrate how little equipped he was, when, not long ago, he pronounced President Yeltsin to be in vigorous good-health. (more…)
For years now, officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of Russia’s Finance Ministry, and of the Central Bank of Russia have been conducting a discreet conversation among themselves they intended no-one else to hear — at least not in Russia.
Mikhail Zadornov — who complained this was unprincipled and undemocratic when he was a member of parliament — defended the practice, once he joined the conversation. “It’s really not worth being discussed publicly,”Zadornov claimed last week, speaking to the Duma as Minister of Finance. That was a little echo of Victor Gerashchenko, the Central Bank chairman, who made his remark, also to the Duma, the week before.
The topic of the conversation that has embarrased the officials by being disclosed to Russia’s chief taw enforcement officer, its chief auditor, and its parliament, is what the Central Bank has been doing with its reserves. (more…)
As the well-known Engish screenwriter, Dennis Potter, was in his last days, dying of pancreatic cancer, he agreed to an interview on television.
There he said: “I call my cancer Rupert. I would shoot the bugger if I could.”
Potter was speaking of Rupert Murdoch, the media proprietor. Five years after Potter’s death, in a meeting in Moscow between Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Boris Berezovsky, Primakov took some of Potter’s advice.
In Moscow, Murdoch has his foot stuck in one of the most malodorous of influence-peddling scandals. The outcome of that is likely to be new parliamentary legislation banning foreign shareholding in Russia’s state-owned television networks; and maybe new limits On the airing of American-made films and television entertainment, like those produced by Murdoch’s Twentieth Century Fox division. (more…)
By answering questions the way he’s been doing, the Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, Viktor Gerashchenko, has unfortunately aroused people to ask whether he’s a good man, or bad.
A good man is good inside, they say in Russian villages — a good horse is good outside.
No one investigating the Central Bank at the moment is able to find out, and no auditor or prosecutor need care, whether Gerashchenko is good on the inside. What concerns us all is whether he’s good on the outside — whether, like the village horse, he is carrying the burdens that are his duty, or not.
In the case of the Central Bank, the legislation that governs its operations was enacted in such a way as to make the Bank accountable on many matters to itself alone. Gerashchenko told a television interviewer last week that he and his bank report to the Duma. He didn’t elaborate on all the topics, records, transactions, and accounts which are not reported to the Duma, or withheld from the Accounting Chamber, according to the interpretation of the law which the Bank holds. (more…)
What kind of bird is russa’s prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov, or is he a fox?
Aesop once tried to explain the difference with the fable of a jackdaw, who was sitting on the branch of a fig-tree. Hungry though he was, the bird could see the fruit was still green. So he decided to wait.
A fox came along, and seeing the jackdaw sitting and waiting, he asked him why. When the jackdaw explained he was waiting for the figs to ripen, the fox replied he was mistaken. “You’re just living off hope. Hope feeds the illusions, not the stomach.”
There are many people in Russian politics, who, believing Primakov is the best alternative among the current flock of candidates to rule Russia, say they are waiting for the figs to ripen. It’s their view that Primakov is obliged to do the same. (more…)
Rogues aren’t always criminals. Take rogue elephants, for example: if they threaten to go on the rampage, it’s neces sary to immobilise them; and if that doesn’t work, to shoot them. After the rampage, that’s a waste of bullets — unless they threaten to come back.
The evidence being patiently assembled at the moment by the Accounting Chamber and the Procurator-General proves that the Central Bank of Russia is totally out of control; operat ing entirely by its own rules; accountable to no-one but itself. It’s not the model independent monetary authority which former Central Bank chairman Sergei Dubinin and his favourites in the press like to claim. It was a rogue elephant during the financial collapse of 1998. It could come back to rampage again.
By concentrating on the suspicion that Dubinin’s bank acted illegally, Russian investigators and public discussion are missing the distinction between the criminal and the rogue. The latter can do — and in Dubinin’s bank did do — just as much damage. Even if he and his subordinates were to be punished, failing to immobilise the Central Bank under Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko allows it to repeat the damage once more. What game warden could be so foolhardy? (more…)
The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.
In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration: “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”
By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”
To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.
A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”
The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.
Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.” Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the 6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected, Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.
The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.
Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.
By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.
Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”
The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire, the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.
In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders, knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.
Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.
In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”
This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention. In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.
Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials, to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.
By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.
US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11 highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.
In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.