THE ALROSA CHALLENGE TO DE BEERS

In the most famous words ever addressed to a gemstone ring, the Princess Elizabeth greeted news of the death of her rival, Queen Mary, with the words: “This is the Lord’s doing. It is marvellous in our eyes.” Alrosa officials said almost as much last week — without the hyperbole, but increasingly conscious of the rivalry with De Beers.

Alrosa is now well on the way to becoming the dominant state-controlled multi-mineral mining company in Russia, according to its board chairman, federal Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. He and chief executive Alexander Nichiporuk presented reports to a meeting of the company’s workforce last week. Their speeches have been released on the company website.
According to Nichiporuk, sales by Alrosa of domestically mined diamonds, including polished goods, hit a record last year of $2.86 billion, up 15% on 2004. Adding the results of sales of Alrosa’s share of the Catoca mine in Angola, total revenues reached over $3.1 billion. Aggregate profit was RM5.1 billion, or about $540 million, Nichiporuk noted.

In what was evidently a challenge to the global position of De Beers — soon to lose purchase of Alrosa’s rough exports, as well as access to new mining projects in Russia — Nichiporuk noted that “the share of ALROSA in the world market has grown from 18 % up to 25 %.”

For comparison, De Beers’s financial results for last year included $6.54 billion in revenues for rough diamond sales, more than double Alrosa’s total; after-tax earnings for De Beers were $824 million. At $2.4 billion, De Beers’s debt appears to be rising, and to be greater than Alrosa’s, which is about $1.6 billion, and shrinking.

Nichiporuk conceded that there had been substantial increases in the cost of mine production last year. “The most serious influence on the end results of our common work,” he said, was the growth of costs at the ore-processing combines. What Nichiporuk described as “general production charges” grew more than twofold. This year, he added, the company hopes to cut costs by 5% overall.

Alrosa does not release carat volume data for its mines, or in the aggregate. Nichiporuk claimed that mine production overall grew by 4.2% to $2.3 billion in 2005. He broke this total down into a value of output for each of Alrosa’s mines: Udachny, $861 million (38%); Nyurba, $529 million (23%); Mirny, $481 million (21% of total);Aikhal, $348 million (15%); and Anabar, $41 million (2%).

Both Nichiporuk and Kudrin emphasized Alrosa’s growing reach, from diamonds into oil, gas, possibly coal, and gold; out of the Sakha region of eastern Russia into northwestern Arkhangelsk region, and in Angola.”Alrosa is a company of strategic importance,” Kudrin said, “not only because the major decisions concerning it are accepted by the President of Russia. Long-term plans of the state for the accelerated natural resource development of Siberia and the Far East provide direct involvement of the Company.” Alrosa’s reach for new diamond and other mineable resources in both Sakha and Arkhangelsk leaves next to no room in Russia for De Beers. In southern Africa, Alrosa is already decidedly better positioned in Angola than De Beers to garner a growing stream of rough.

Kudrin and Nichiporuk also announced that they expect the transfer of capital from Sakha to the federal government will be completed by year’s end, giving Moscow 50% plus one share; the Sakha administration 40%. Corporate restructuring of De Beers by Anglo American is anticipated, but has yet to begin.

RUSSIA TEACHES LITHUANIA A WELL OILED LESSON

Lithuania, the little state on the shore of the Baltic Sea, has a proud, and under Adolf Hitler, an unpleasant history of hostility towards Russia.

If its accession to the European Union was an understandable attempt to conserve, and build on its post-Soviet independence, Lithuania’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sharpened the military edge to the relationship with Moscow. But as the great British strategist, Basil Liddell Hart, spelled out a long time ago -without fuel waging war is a losing business. Lithuania’s Mazheikiu refinery can produce fuel, but it lacks crude oil for the purpose. The decade-long history of oil supplies to the refinery keeps repeating Liddell Hart’s lesson several times over.

The Lithuanians apparently haven’t read Liddell Hart.

Instead, they tried putting Williams, a Kansas-based oil company, in charge of the refinery in the belief that Washington would assure the imports of crude oil. Perhaps it promised to do so; but at a price Williams could not afford. It defaulted on the investment, tax and other obligations it had signed with the Lithuanian government. Mazheikiu was then put up for sale again, and this time it was acquired by Yukos, the Russian oil company owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Perhaps Washington told Vilnius it could trust Khodorkovsky. But even Khodorkovsky at the peak of his power didn’t have the means to deliver oil to Mazheikiu himself. For that, as for much more than Khodorkovsky realized at the time, Yukos depended on the Kremlin. Since the Transneft pipeline system is state-owned, access can be controlled by a directive from the Kremlin to Semyon Vainshtok, Transneft’s chief executive. When Khodorkovsky was convicted by a Moscow court and imprisoned on fraud charges, and Yukos’s principal assets sold to pay tax evasion claims, Mazheikiu was once more a problem for Lithuania. It could have decided to negotiate with Yukos’s heir, the state oil company Rosneft. It might have tried exciting a contest for the Yukos stake between Transneft, Rosneft, and Russia’s ambitious commercial oil producers, including BP-controlled TNK and LUKoil. But last November Vilnius decided against all Russians. This month, the Russians decided what to do about it.

Transneft is now diverting an estimated 163,000 barrels per day (bd) of additional Russian crude oil exports to Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. This diversion started after Transneft cut off the flow of crude through a spur of the main Druzhba (that’s Russian for ‘friendship’) pipeline that has been supplying the Mazheikiu refinery, and Lithuania’s oil port on the Baltic, Butinge.

First reports of the cutoff appeared to be in response to a leak and falling pressures reported in the Lithuanian spur of the pipeline on the weekend of July 30-31.

Last November, in what it announced as a fresh bid to break free of Russian crude oil supply constraints, the Lithuanian government proposed to sell the Yukos stake to either a Kazakh or Polish company. Transneft then responded it would not deliver the oil required to fill the bid by the first of the non-Russian bidders, Kazmunaigaz (KMG). In addition to KMG, the other contenders for the refinery were PKN Orlen of Poland, and TNK-BP and LUKoil of Russia.

At the time, Transneft was piping 3 to 4 million tons per annum of KMG crude to Lithuania, a Transneft source told RJ. But to operate profitably, the refinery needs between 7 to 12 million tons. According to Sergei Grigoriev, Transneft’s spokesman, his company could deliver to market up to 17 million tons of KMG oil annually. It was not doing so, he claimed, because KMG had failed to “fulfill its obligations in the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan. Kazakh officials claimed this was camouflage for an attempt to pressure the Lithuanians to select a Russian supplier, and was “not in line with open market principles”. KMG claimed that, if selected, it would despatch its crude by tanker to Mazeikiu, if Transneft persisted with its cutoff threat.

In what then appeared to be further retaliation against Moscow, the President of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko, announced a scheme of his own to induce KazMunaiGaz to ship oil across the Caspian and Black Seas to the Ukrainian terminal at Yuzhny, near Odessa. This oil would then be pumped northwards, Yushchenko claimed, to Poland, and onwards from there to Mazeikiu, if KMG’s bid for the refinery won acceptance.Yushchenko’s move returned to earlier Ukrainian proposals to pipe non-Russian crude northwards through the Odessa-Brody pipeline, rather than Russian crude southwards. It is the latter direction which is currently operational, supplied by Russian oil producers. Yushchenko’s scheme didn’t survive the collapse of his political support; the raising of Russian gas prices; and new parliamentary elections which have returned to power the pro-Russian prime minister, Victor Yanukovych.

The situation today is that Lithuania has lost its crude oil supply, and Ukraine is gaining transit fees and tanker revenues from the Lithuanian loss. Boris Biryukov, a spokesman for Yuzhniy port, in Ukraine, told The Russia Journal last Thursday that for the month of August he has been promised, and is getting “additional oil from Transneft”; but he refused to identify the additional volumes. Industry sources claim Yuzhniy is receiving an additional 300,000 tons this month (68,000 bd). Odessa port confirmed that it will receive 970,000 tons of crude from Transneft, piped southward from the Druzhba; this is 420,000 tons (95,000 bd) more than previously planned. Alexey Bezborodov, a Russian maritime analyst, told The Russia Journal “this is a likely reorientation of flows from Transneft, as they have to put the Druzhba oil somewhere.”

Pipeline deliveries to Belarus, another neighbour, have been unaffected by the Lithuanian cutoff.

Lithuanian industry sources say that, although it will raise the cost of production, for as long as the Russian shutoff lasts, the refinery will be supplied by tanker deliveries to Butinge. Tanker deliveries were what made Mazheikiu a losing business for Williams a decade ago.

THE ALUMINIUM PIMPERNEL

Hardly anyone can remember the Baroness Emmuska Orczy these days, and were it not for a Broadway musical, her best-selling novel would have been forgotten, too. It was called The Scarlet Pimpernel, and it concerned the adventures of an apparently witless, secretly intrepid English knight, who defied the French Revolution to save aristocrats, who may have been pretty, but whose heads deserved the guillotine.

The least forgettable lines which Orczy wrote were: “We seek him here. We seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere! Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? That damned, elusive Pimpernel!” Playing in a subsequent BBC serial, Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. E. Blackadder, abhorred the Baroness’s prejudice for the aristos by killing two London noblemen he suspected of being the Pimpernel. He also ridiculed Orczy’s plot for “filling London with a load of garlic-chewing French toffs… looking for sympathy all the time simply because their fathers had their heads cut off”.

The library at Oleg Deripaska’s expensive residence on Belgrave Square may not have a copy of Orczy’s book, and the backyard isn’t likely to include a planting of the angallis arvenis (scarlet pimpernel). Nonetheless, having established his London domicile as a refuge, in case Russian prejudice should turn against the unusually rich, Deripaska is preparing to persuade the London market to buy the bonds of his aluminium empire, or even better, the shares of an initial public offering of Russian Aluminium (Rusal), now a Jersey-listed listed entity.

In order to do either, Deripaska must remove much of the secrecy surrounding his ownership of the Rusal group. And before that is possible, he must make sure there are no major rivals claiming to own the assets which Deripaska says belong to him. In practice, no sooner does Deripaska settle the asset claims of one rival than another launches a new one, and prepares a lawsuit. They are a little like the aristos the Pimpernel used to rescue from the guillotine. Only in Deripaska’s case, the plot is reversed a little, with the Aluminium Pimpernel doing his best to top his rivals in secret, while appearing in London to be the reticent fellow he would like to be thought of by his English friends.

Although Rusal once claimed that the Zhivilo brothers, former owners of the Novokuznetsk aluminium smelter, had been defeated in the US courts, Deripaska has paid them about $65 million in confidential settlement relating to their smelter, one of Rusal’s four. At a second smelter, Krasnoyarsk, after calling the former chairman and controlling shareholder Antoly Bykov a gangster and murderer, and rejecting a Swiss arbitration award in his favour, Rusal paid Bykov $100,500,000, also in confidential settlement.

A claim in the courts of the British Virgin Islands by the Reuben brothers, relating to diverted cash allegedly taken by Rusal from trade proceeds owed to the Reubens, has also been partially settled. About $100 million of the $300 million bid was agreed for payment in a settlement of June 27, 2005. However, one of Deripaska’s companies – called Bluzwed Metals — recently went into the High Court in London, arguing that Trans World Metals, the Reubens’vehicle, had violated Clause 11.4 of the secret deal with Deripaska. Deripaska then sought High Court enforcement of the Reubens deal. He got his summary judgement last January 26 in a ruling by Justice Sir Andrew Morritt. One secret preserved in the ruling was the identity of a Lebanese arranger called Joseph Karam – “K” in the court text – whose payoff and indemnity from further claims Bluzwed accused the Reubens of threatening.Bluzwed’s venture into the High Court occurred in parallel with an attempt by another smelter company controlled by Deripaska, Tajik Auminium Plant (TadAZ), to seek a High Court award of several hundred million dollars against the former investor in TadAZ, Avaz Nazarov, and trading companies associated with him. Although Deripaska has suggested in a US speech that he controls TadAZ, and testimony in High Court proceedings persuaded the judge that Rusal was backing the TadAZ lawsuit, Deripaska and Rusal claim they have nothing to do with TadAZ. Their lawyers also argue that they are outside UK jurisdiction, and should not be subject to the counter suit against them by Nazarov. An attempt by TadAZ and Rusal to have the court endorse the seizure of Nazarov’s passport, his bank accounts blocked, and his papers and computer records removed has been rejected by the London judge, William Blackburne. A new hearing before Justice Blackbume on whether Deripaska and Rusal have entered the court’s jurisdiction is scheduled in a few weeks’ time.

Potential bond buyers or investors in Rusal won’t trouble to seek Deripaska here, or there, and don’t mind whether he is in heaven or in hell. They will pay attention to the rulings on jurisdiction by the High Court judges, and on the trials Deripaska may then face for his assets. Investors have an understandable curiosity to know whose assets he is pledging or selling, and what financial capacity his Rusal group has to honour its obligations.

When the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti published a front-page article this week, headlined “How Rusal is organized”, it added a second headline by way of explanation: “Deripaska opens the structure of his main asset”. To the uninitiated, the impression was that Deripaska was confirming his ownership of the Rusal group, and through four holding companies, his ownership of four aluminium smelters in Russia; three alumina refineries in Russia and the Ukraine; three companies in the west African republic of Guinea, mining bauxite and refining alumina; a 20% stake in Queensland Alumina Refinery; and some downstream aluminium fabricating plants.

In Moscow newspaper practice, it is customary that newspaper reports about business are placed at a price, and like advertising, there is a scale of prices governing editorial position, length and prominence. This custom is so well entrenched, it is also usual for Russian readers of such newspapers to infer from the published text who might have paid to place it there. This isn’t to say that Vedomosti, owned by the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and a Finnish media group – or its affiliated English-language newspaper, The Moscow Times – received financial reward for running what appears to be a news report of Deripaska’s disclosures. Russian customs being what they are, however, the speculation is that the prime mover behind the prominent article wasn’t Deripaska at all. Instead, it appears to be one of the biggest claimants in Rusal’s litigation history, Mikhail Chernoy. He is currently living in Israel, where his freedom of movement is restricted. He has been saying for years that he put Deripaska in the aluminium business, and that Deripaska is bound to pay him for a 20% stake in Rusal he retained from those early days. Deripaska claims he bought Chernoy out years ago.

Sources close to both men have confirmed how fond they once were of each other. This week, Chernoy is quoted as telling Vedomosti that he received $250 million from Deripaska five years ago, but that he is still owed a balance of about $2 billion. Chernoy is quoted in the newspaper as saying: “The validity of the agreement [with Deripaska] has expired, and now my lawyers are preparing a letter to Deripaska in which he will be reminded that he has not carried out his obligations to me.” If Deripaska had arranged the Vedomosti publication to disclose how much he owns in Rusal, Chernoy would not have appeared.

According to the Vedomosti report, the Rusal spokeswoman Vera Kurochkina is quoted as explaining that the Jersey-listed Rusal Ltd. was created in 2005 to absorb Rusal Holding Ltd., a British Virgin Islands company. This had been created by Deripaska and Roman Abramovich, along with Abramovich’s shareholding partners in Millhouse Capital, a UK holding company, to hold the smelter, refinery, mining, and other factory assets. Deripaska bought out Abramovich’s 25% stake in the group for $1,578 billion, and later acquired the Millhouse stake of 25% for an undisclosed sum. These numbers are about equal to the fraction they represent of the official revenue figures for Rusal sales in the years the transactions were negotiated. But they are substantially less than the valuations Moscow investment bankers assumed Abramovich had placed on, and Deripaska agreed to pay for Rusal. According to Rusal releases, in 2003 sales revenues worldwide were $4.5 billion; in 2004 $5.4 billion; and in 2005 $6.1 billion. Abramovich and Millhouse apparently believed their shares were not worth the large multiples Moscow investment bankers currently attribute to these revenue figures.

One of the few additional figures Rusal has released that bears on the asset valuation is the group’s debt. After financial reports Rusal had provided potential lenders disclosed heavy related-party lending between Rusal and Deripaska’s asset holding, Basic Element, leaving little cash in Rusal’s coffers, Rusal’s indebtedness has been a sensitive point on which the company has been reticent. The most recent disclosure by the company indicates that debt has been rising sharply, and was at $2.8 billion at the end of 2005. According to the Vedomosti report, Rusal documents valued its own assets at $2.8 billion last June. Subtracting the debt, perhaps Rusal believes itself to have a net value of zero. This is hardly Deripaska’s estimation of his net worth.

Kurochkina was asked if she would verify that the information attributed to her in the Vedomosti publication was accurate. She refused to respond to written and telephone requests. Were there any suspicion that Deripaska initiated the disclosures in Vedomosti, Kurochkina’s silence dispels it.

There is one further reason forjudging that the Vedomosti report isn’t a pimpernel which Deripaska intended to leave behind. For there is no reference in either the report, or the accompanying asset chart, of the trading firms through which Rusal’s production plants sell their products. As The Russia Journal has reported in great detail in the past, Rusal’s trading is largely done through tolling contracts, which leave the Russian assets with much less than the market value of the sales revenues. This value has been flowing for years to the trading companies offshore. It is these trading schemes that have already exposed Deripaska’s vulnerability to much of the litigation issued to date. The evidence of how these schemes operated to pauperize the plants and enrich the proprietors of the trading companies has not yet been tried in court.

However, if Rusal will not, or cannot consolidate on to its balance-sheet the proceeds of the dozens, if not hundreds of trading companies which Deripaska operates, then it will be difficult for investors to calculate what would give Rusal a net value of better than zero.

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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