MOSCOW – There are four men, possibly five, who as former officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), know the sordid truth of the IMF’s intervention in the Russian economy, leading up to the decisions the Russian government took on August 17,1998, to cut the rouble loose, default on government debt, and cover the Russian oligarchs while they spirited several billion dollars offshore. (more…)


MOSCOW – A notable French medical researcher recently conducted an experiment with the drug Viagra on twelve men, who were helicoptered to one of France’s highest peaks. No women were present.

As is very well known, Viagra is taken by men who are sexually aroused, but lack an erection for sufficient time to enjoy the experience. By itself, Viagra (the brand name for the chemical compound known as sildenafil) isn’t a psychotropic drug, which spurs the brain to sexual arousal, commanding the lower organs to follow suit. Instead, it is a vasodilator, which stimulates the heart and the circulatory system, so that blood flow is increased around the body. By putting 12 men at an altitude of 4,362 metres, exercising them hard on bicycles and other machines, but keeping them away from women, and hiding the identity of the pills they were taking, the French doctors were trying to determine whether Viagra may open the gate to stopping pulmonary oedemas, and other serious circulatory disorders. The results aren’t in yet. (more…)


When two small Russians, each barely 165 centimeters in height, place for-sale advertisements for $3 billion apiece in the Financial Times of London, a tall story is certain to be in the offing — though not much taller than the Mother Goose tales, which are truer than you think.

In “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” for example, a father is overwhelmed by having to care for too many children. Accordingly, when a new infant arrives, the father sells it to the Devil in exchange for enough to eat for twelve years. At the end of that period, the boy returns home. Once again, the larder is stripped bare, and the family faces starvation. Only this time, using a ruse the boy has picked up from his apprenticeship with the Devil, he turns himself into a hunting dog and is sold again to the Dark Lord. After the father collects his fee, the boy/dog runs home again. The trick is played once more with the boy turning into a horse, except that, this time, the Devil manages to prevent his escape. A series of other tricks are recounted, in which the boy turns into a frog, only to escape the jaws of the Devil in the form of a fish. They then pursue each other as bird and hawk, respectively, until they fly into the window of a rich but ailing king who believes he will be saved by the orange into which the boy has metamorphosed himself. The Devil appears as a doctor, demanding the orange as his fee for curing the king. The boy then turns himself from an orange into seeds of grain, while the Devil becomes a hen. He is about to gobble the last grain, when it turns into a fox, which finally ends the transformations by eating the hen. That’s it for the Devil. (more…)


Glazyev’s star is rising on the politicai left – but you wouldn’t know it from his silence on Norilsk Nickel’s labor dispute

It is recorded that, in April of 1794, when Georges Danton, the French revolutionary leader, was awaiting the guillotine at the foot of the scaffold, he remarked, “Ah, better to be a poor fisherman than muck about with politics.” Ho fisherman is reported to have been present to nod his head. Just how penniless a man should become before he can afford to risk his life in politics, Danton did not have time to discuss.

Sergei Glazyev – at 42, a little older than Danton was when he made his last remark – may prove to be the man who risks himself for the highest political office in the land. But, for the time being, he is signaling he is uncomfortable risking anything. That is to say, he is saying next to nothing. If he were a poor fisherman, metalworker or miner, maybe Glazyev could afford to take Danton’s sharp advice. But he’s been a professional politician for a decade, starting as a liberal reform minister under then-President Boris Yeltsin and, then, his critic and opponent on the left side of the Duma. (more…)


A word about the common, green, wrongly maligned toad. “Don’t play with the toad,” French mothers used to warn their children, “because if he pees in your eye, you will become blind”. The youngsters might have been forgiven for not knowing what to do, because the appearance of the ugly creature was also said to do good, such as bringing rain to crops; and because it was also said that harming the toad would bring bad luck. Then again, country people believed it would provide protection to hang a dried toad’s body at the door to the henhouse and the stables.

Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of Russian Aluminium (Rusal), Russia’s largest aluminium producer, and head of Base Element, which holds his investments in other sectors of the Russian economy, has been feeling wrongly maligned for a long time now. A two-year old lawsuit by smelter rival Mikhail Zhivilo in New York, accusing Deripaska and his associates of illegal tactics in the acquisition of his assets, has been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. But in all likelihood the case will be returned to the courts on appeal, or refiled. The trouble Deripaska has had with the US authorities preceded the court case, and appears to be persisting, despite the efforts of well-known American lawyers he has engaged to clear him. In Zurich, Deripaska has lost an appeal of an arbitration panel’s award of $90 million to Krasnoyarsk arch-rival, Anatoly Bykov. He faces more of the same in other European jurisdictions. In Frankfurt, lawyers defending Germany’s leading financial newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, from a defamation suit filed by Deripaska have turned up more than he can have bargained for.

In Russia, Deripaska can also complain that he’s been wrongly maligned. In Moscow, he is the target of a recent petition to the Kremlin by paper and pulp producers who accuse him of a variety of hostile takeover tactics. His acquisition of the Ingosstrakh insurance company is under investigation by the General Prosecutor. Although he married into the Yeltsin circle, he hasn’t been able to turn his Kremlin connexions to much account in recent months. The four keys to his profit margin in the aluminium trade -electricity, alumina, freight rates, and tolling privileges – have come under serious pressure. His attempts to secure shareholding control or regional political influence over the price of energy to his smelters have been less than effective. His control of the Nikolaev alumina refinery, the supplier of roughly one-third of his smelter’s raw material requirement, is under threat from the government in Kiev, and from an ambitious Ukrainian metals magnate. Rail tariffs have recently been raised 5% or more,and the possibility of special discounting has shrunk. Deripaska was able to lobby Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin to drop his attempt to halt the tax concessions conferred by tolling contracts. But he lost a similar bid in the Ukraine.

Through Rusal Deripaska has made big promises-to build a new smelter in Murmansk, a new bauxite mine in Guinea, a new partnership with the Chinese Aluminium Company, a new metals complex in Australia, a new smelter in western Ukraine – but there is little yet to show for any of them. In the section describing investment plans for the next five years, Rusal’s website lists four priority projects that are quite different, and a good deal less costly. A Ukrainian court recently appointed an expert to take inventory of what exactly has been done at the site of the promised Pervomaiskoye smelter, in order to enable the court to rule on whether Deripaska has broken the terms of the agreement with the Ukrainian government that allowed him to take over the Nikolaev asset.

To the question of why his fellow oligarchs are looking to cash out at least some of their assets, but not Deripaska, the short answer may be that he has looked for a multitude of exits, only to find the way is blocked. He can’t list Rusal shares on the London or New York stock exchanges, because the company’s assets have yet to be consolidated into a single shareholding company. Although Deripaska recently denied that he had made a deal with Roman Abramovich to buy Abramovich’s half-share of Rusal, sources inside Millhouse, Abramovich’s holding company, claim that Deripaska has been making a bid, but lacked the cash to pay the $3 billion sale price outright, and cannot come to terms with other shareholders at Millhouse, who don’t share Abramovich’s desire to cash out of Russia. They may be biding their time for a counter-bid aimed at Deripaska’s half-share of Rusal. Then on October 3, Deripaska turned around and declared he had bought a 25% stake in Rusal from Abramovich. No price or payment terms were disclosed. Deripaska has never revealed the price of any of his transactions, or how they have been paid for.

Borrowing to fund asset takeovers, or to leverage existing assets, or even to pay for production upgrades and expansions, isn’t easy for Deripaska. Although he considers that a current debt portfolio totaling $1.5 billion -including last week’s $100 million loan from Credit Suisse First Boston – is a gilt-edged indicator of his international creditworthiness, he still trails behind his fellow oligarchs in being able to obtain unsecured credits. For every dollar Rusal borrows, international banks want their hands on a metal ingot.

It was therefore noteworthy when Deripaska, on a recent visit to the southeast Siberian city of Irkutsk, announced that he wants to add to his stakes in the region’s Bratsk smelter, a new smelter site at Taishet, and the regional electrical utility, Irkutskenergo. According to his quoted remark, Deripaska said he aims to bid for Sukhoi Log (“Dry Gulch”), the largest unmined gold deposit in Russia, and one of the largest in the world.

Now goldmining would be a first for Deripaska, and Sukhoi Log nothing if not expensive. A few days before his remark, Deripaska had lost out in the bidding for a 45% state shareholding in Lenzoloto, the Irkutsk region goldminer, which has been taken over by Vladimir Potanin’s Norilsk Nickel group at a price of more than $152 million. Potanin would like the market to think that, with control of Lenzoloto, he now has the inside running for the state award of the Sukhoi Log mining licence, which will go up for tender after the presidential election next March.

Deripaska’s announcement suggests that he thinks Potanin may be politically vulnerable, and open to a Kremlin challenge to knock him out of the race. Other declared bidders for Sukhoi Log include Polymetal of St.Petersburg, led by Alexander Nesis; and Khazret Sovmen, former owner of Polyus, Russia’s largest operating goldmine acquired a year ago by Potanin. One thing all of them have already learned – the tender will not be issued by the Minister of Natural Resources, Vitaly Artyukhov, until he learns whom the Kremlin wants to win. And that decision won’t be made until after the election season is behind us.

So Deripaska’s open bid for Sukhoi Log turns out to be a wager that, among the oligarchs and Yeltsin leftovers, he has a better chance of surviving than Potanin. Little wonder Deripaska thinks he’s been wrongly maligned to date.


A notable French medical researcher recently conducted an experiment with the drug Viagra on twelve men, who were helicoptered to one of France’s highest peaks. No women were present.
By itself, Viagra (the brand name for the chemical compound known as sildenafil) isn’t a psychotropic drug, which spurs the brain to sexual arousal. Instead, it is a vasodilator, which stimulates the heart and the circulatory system, so that blood flow is increased around the body. By putting 12 men at an altitude of 4,362 metres, exercising them hard on bicycles and other machines, but keeping them away from women, and hiding the identity of the pills they were taking, the French doctors were trying to determine whether Viagra may open the gate to stopping pulmonary oedemas, and other serious circulatory disorders. The results aren’t in yet. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

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.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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

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.



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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