BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – Roman Abramovich, Russia’s and England’s richest man, quietly lost a court case in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) last week. But the sound of the judge’s ruling is about to toll right round the world, For the first time in one of the most successful careers in the world of what Karl Marx once called primitive capital accumulation, Abramovich is facing a court order, outside Russia, to explain how he and his oil companies seized control of a Russian oilfield the owner has accused him of stealing.

At stake in court is a group of oilfields in Khanty-Mansiisk known as Priobskoye, worth about $4 billion. The value of the theft, allegedly masterminded by Abramovich two years ago, which the court has said it will now adjudicate, is about $2 billion.

Before the court will rule on the evidence, however, and most embarrassing and serious for Abramovich personally, he has been ordered to reveal where he has hidden the proceeds – along with every asset he owns worth more than $1 million.

Until now, Abramovich has been able to evade all claims of fraud and other illegalities alleged against
Millhouse, his UK-based asset holding company, Sibneft, the oil company that serves as his principal cash cow, or the myriad of associated companies registered in tax havens across the globe. Abramovich’s spokesman John Mann publicly claimed this month, in a remark to an English newspaper, that “any attempt to drag Mr. Abramovich into litigation would be misguided, since he is not on Sibneft’s board and had no role in its dealings with Sibir.”

Sibir Energy Pic, an oil producer listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London, has already filed charges of massive fraud against the Abramovich group in Russian courts. These are proceeding, although Abramovich has been winning on his home ground. Sibir’s financial statement for 2004 indicates that, minus the benefit of the Priobskoye oilfield, it had revenues of ” about $320 million, earning a pre-tax profit of about $40 million.

Sibir is principally owned by Chalva Tschigirinsky, a Moscow entrepreneur. The Priobskoye oilfield is a vital asset in a partnership which Tschigirinsky has with the Mosdcow city government and the Moscow oil refinery to create a vertically integrated structure supplying the city with petroleum products refined from its own crude oil. Sibir is accusing Abramovich and his companies of fraudulently diluting, and converting its 50% stake in Priobskoye asset to less than 1%.

In August 2002, in a fierce battle between Abramovich, D Tschigirinsky and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Abramovich’s Sibneft tried, but failed to take control of the refinery. For a time Sibneft cut off part of its crude oil supply to the refinery. Abramovich has personally made no secret that his subsequent takeover of Sibir’s stake in Priovskoye was, as he personally told Luzhkov, was retaliation for losing the refinery battle.

The High Court of the British Virgin Islands has taken jurisdiction over Sibir’s claim against the Russian oligarch, because, in his effort to spirit the asset out of Russian control, Abramovich used several BVI companies he secretly controls. They are listed in the court order as Gregory Trading, Richard Enterprises, Shaw Invest & Finance, and Carroll Trading. All are said to be located at the same address: Trident Chambers, Wickhams Cay, Road Town in Tortola. The court order has appointed an independent receiver to take over the shares of three of the BVI companies that are a part of the fraud claim. The other companies, including entities registered in Cyprus and Panama, as well as Abramovich himself, have been ordered not to make any move to shift the shares outside the BVI court’s jurisdiction, or the control of the companies that presently hold them. The proceeds from oil sales currently under way from the oilfield have also been frozen in place.

Details of Sibir’s claim in the BVI court, and Abramovich’s lawyers reply are still under court seal. What has already been publicly disclosed by both sides is that Sibir and Sibneft were equal stakeholders in a joint venture called Sibneft Yugra to develop the Priobskoye area. Sibneft was to fund the development, and Sibir and its Russian operating company Yugraneft, were to repay Sibneft, and then share the proceeds of oil sales equally. However, according to Sibir, Abramovich, his associate David Davidovich, and their subordinates secretly converted Sibir’s and Yugraneft’s stakes into holdings of the BVI companies and others, for Abramovich’s benefit.

Speaking for Abramovich, Mann has claimed that “everything that Sibir has done related to Sibneft Yugra has been within the framework of a set of agreements between our shareholders and their shareholders.” Sibir’s CEO Henry Cameron is reported in a Moscow newspaper as saying this is “all nonsense. We would like them to disclose to us what those agreements are.”

In order to rule on Abramovich’s defence, Judge Charles has ordered the Abramovich companies to produce these agreements in court. The court order also instructs the companies to reveal “when, from whom and for what consideration it acquired the interest in the share capital of Sibneft-Yugra presently registered in its name”. In addition, the companies have also been ordered to hand over their banking details. Although Sibneft makes its financial accounts public, the others are not. If forced to comply with the BVI court, the elaborate system through which Abramovich directs billions of dollars of oil revenues will be exposed for the first time. The evidence may then be used by UK authorities in London to investigate whether the money-laundering statutes have been violated by Abramovich’s high-profile spending in Britain. “We have not acted in any way illegally,” Mann has also claimed in a London newspaper interview. “All the court cases so far have confirmed that.” He was referring to the courts of the Khanty-Mansiisk region and the Moscow Arbitration Court. The decisions, which have gone both ways, are still pending on appeal.

In her ruling on Sibir’s claim No. 174/05, issued last Wednesday, and obtained from the court record in Tortola late Friday, Judge Indra Charles requires Abramovich to file an affidavit “stating the value, location and details of all his assets exceeding US$1 million in value wheresoever situated and whether in…his own name or not and whether solely or jointly owned, giving the value, location and details of all such assets.” The judge has set a deadline of July 22 to comply. If he fails, Abramovich and his companies face serious contempt of court claims, which can be enforced in England.

According to the court order in BVI, Abramovich has two personal UK addresses: Flat 2, 39 Lowndes Square, London SW1, and the Fyning Hill Estate, Rogate, Petersfield, Hampshire. The judge has given Abramovich until July 22 to hand over the information, or face contempt of court penalties. The safe haven Abramovich apparently thought he was acquiring from the long hand of Russian law turns out to be vulnerably to legal action in the British legal system.

The Sibir charge that Abramovich is a fraudster is not the first of its kind against Abramovich. In September 2003, Abramovich had been behind a transaction in which a company he secretly controlled sold a gold deposit called Maiskoye to Highland Gold, a London goldminer also controlled by men close to Abramovich, on terms that had been financially sweetened by the Chukotka regional administration, which Abramovich headed as governor. At the time, Abramovich’s spokesman Mann claimed that the seller of Maiskoye “is not connected in any way whatsoever with Abramovich”. Subsequent admissions by executives of Highland Gold revealed that Abramovich was the seller of Maiskoye. Russian and UK officials reportedly examined the charges in 2004, but took no action.


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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