BEWARE ANATOLY FINN

By John Helmer

The newsletter from the US Embassy warned recently that middle-aged American males should be on the lookout for a dangerous thief in Moscow who puts them to sleep before he or she steals their wallets, and any other property that can be carried off.

At the start of the last century in the US, the term Mickey Finn referred to the lowlife trick of administering a stupefying drug to a target in a bar, and then accompanying the victim to his home nearby. An Irish name was used, because in those days in downtown New York, the prostitutes were Irish.

In Moscow the drug clonidine is used by Russians of either male or female sex, who drop it in liquid or pill form into the drink of the unsuspecting target. After about thirty minutes, the drug lowers blood pressure, inducing unconsciousness. Watch out for Anatoly Finn.
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HONEST CIPHER FOR CENTRAL BANK

President Vladimir Putin has surprised the Russian banking community, and global emerging market analysts, by dismissing the Central Bank chief Victor Gerashchenko, and replacing him with a man, who despite a decade of holding senior finance policy posts in Moscow, is totally unknown to have opinions of his own.

Sergei Ignatiev, 54, currently deputy finance minister, was named by Putin after the markets closed on Friday. According to parliamentary deputies, he will be confirmed as the new chairman of the Central Bank without opposition; the vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

Putin’s latest appointment follows a string of similar appointments of unknown middle-aged bureaucrats to such posts as chief executive of the state-owned diamond company, Alrosa; and the ministers of railways, energy, and natural resources. (more…)

WHO CAN YOU TRUST IN RUSSIA?

By John Helmer

The only foreign-language sentence that managed to lodge itself correctly in the brain of Ronald Reagan, before he developed Alzheimer’s Disease but after he became President of the United States, was “doveryai no proveryai”. As he never tired of explaining, that is Russian for “trust but verify.”

Reagan and his successors always meant to apply that to treaties on arms deployments and limitations. Bankers and other businessmen mean to apply it to every form of financial or commercial contract that can be signed with Russian counterparties, especially since the government and the leading commercial banks defaulted on their obligations in 1998.

“Trust but verify” is the reason most foreign investment agreements with Russians contain a clause that places the jurisdiction for dispute resolution outside Russia in countries like Sweden, the United Kingdom, or the US. It is also the reason why both Russians and foreigners, who have lost assets and money to Russian raiders, are increasingly turning to the US court system to apply the US racketeering statute, with its triple damages clause. Among the Russian corporations now in the dock facing racketeering charges, there is LUKoil, Russian Aluminum, Alfa Bank, and Tyumen Neftegas. The list is growing fast.

Back when Reagan was getting out his bit of Russian, John Le Carre published a novel called “The Russia House”. It’s a tale about a Scotsman and minor publisher, whom British intelligence, then the CIA, use to obtain secrets from a high-level Soviet military scientist. The go-between is Katya Orlova; but the Scotsman falls in love with her. To save her, he has to dupe his British and American handlers, and make a deal with the KGB.

In the film version, Sean Connery playing the Scotsman tells a panel of KGB officers, after he’s delivered the secrets of the Anglo-American team: “We have a deal, and I expect you to honour that deal. I am talking about honour, not ideology.” The climax of the film comes when Michelle Pfeiffer, playing Katya, steps off a Russian boat and into Connery’s arms, proving that Russians honour their commitments, even if westerners don’t.

Fast forward to a new film version of a similar moral predicament. This is the new release called “Birthday Girl”, in which Nicole Kidman plays Nadia. She is a Russian girl who answers a lonely English banker’s request for a mail-order bride, and establishes herself in his home. John the banker is then set up by Nadia, and two Russian accomplices, who move into the house, and use John to steal 90,000 pounds from his own bank, before making their getaway.

“Don’t feel too bad”, Yuri, the mastermind of the scam, tells John after gagging and tying him up. He then shows him photographs of all the other western men Nadia and her gang have duped. But that isn’t the end of the tale. John pursues the trio, who start fighting among themselves over the money. Having betrayed John, Nadia then betrays her accomplices, taking all the money for herself — and also, it seems, for John. With Nadia and the money, he climbs on board the return flight to Moscow, improbably equipped with a Russian passport in the name of one of the accomplices. What will happen to John at Sheremetyevo isn’t of interest to the filmmakers, who think they have tied up their flic with a happy ending in midair. We can guess what the
airport officers will do to John on arrival — and what Nadia will do once she’s home.

In the new film, there’s a lot of talk about love, as there was in the earlier film. But not a word about honour. What a difference the decade between the two films makes, at least to the image of Russian women, and Russian honour.

In that decade I’ve known many Russian women, including one who is the most wicked individual of any gender I’ve known. She’s exceptional. But as a general rule, in the decade between “The Russia House” and “Birthday Girl” it has turned out that Russian women lost their honour, as did the other gender, as well as almost every type of Russian organization from the KGB on up, or down, depending on your point of view. The dishonouring process has been so thorough, you have to wonder whether it was a mistake to imagine it, when Le Carre thought so, in the Soviet period. We have arrived at a time when Russian dishonour is a topic for comedy; and honour, in the old fashioned sense, is laughable.

The honour of Joes (spy jargon) and Johns (sex business) may be misplaced enough to amuse. But of course, bankers to Russia can’t afford the luxury. When one of the largest banks in the world decided (this month) that it won’t even review the state of the Russian metals sector, because it doesn’t want to lend any money to the companies that occupy it, that suggests how fundamentally flawed the methodology of trust-and-verify has become. After all, Russian metals producers are among the market leaders and price makers of the world. If western bankers judge they can’t trust them, because they can’t verify their financials, then the small sums of credit that are trickling through on short-run, high-price terms won’t be anywhere near enough to sustain the growth and competitive edge which these producers need.

This is no joke, unless Russian metals producers think they can outlive their bankers. Now that’s funny.

WHEN RUSSIAN BANKS FALL, THEY ALSO FLY AWAY

When a tree falls in the forest, everywhere in the world the same thing happens. It makes a loud noise; it drops to the right or left; it crushes the life below unpredictably. But when a Russian bank crashes, it comes down in a way that’s unique – less like a doomed tree, more like a rat escaping into a warren of tunnels that were dug in advance.

Alexander Smolensky, the proprietor of SBS-Agro, Russia’s largest depositor bank in 1998, is probably the only banker in the world to escape scot-free from the consequences of what he did to bring his bank down. As he shuttles between homes in Austria, England, Russia and elsewhere, he has never been held accountable for his actions, which led to the billion-dollar losses of the bank, nor has he answered to the charges that he and his cronies stripped the assets of the bank, both before and after the crash. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He has paid nothing. He continues in the banking business as if nothing had ever happened. His net worth may be as good, or even better today, than it was before he and his bank parted company. (more…)

RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



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.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



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.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

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.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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 bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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