By John Helmer

Georgian gold miner Madneuli gets Russian financing for goldmine moves in Armenia, Azerbaijan lodges protest

Georgian gold miner Madneuli gets Russian financing for goldmine moves in Armenia, Azerbaijan lodges protest.

Queen Tamar, the greatest of the Georgian sovereigns (1184-1213), is responsible for the habit Georgian rulers have displayed for the past millennium of treating neighbouring Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ossetia, and the Black Sea coast of Turkey as protectorates. But as Tamar also taught her countrymen, Georgian ambition always runs out of gas when the neighbours prove to be just as ambitious, richer, or tougher.

It is thus quite natural that the current President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, will regularly denounce the Kremlin for ordering airborne attacks on his country, including a missile which fell, unexploded, near the Georgian capital Tibilisi, on August 6. The Washington Post thundered: “The United States and Europe should help Georgia bring the issue before the U.N. Security Council.” Latvia and Lithuania sent experts to investigate. Russian officials accused Georgia of planting the missile, and fabricating the aircraft incursion as part of an alleged “theatrical show”.

Then on August 21, the government in Tbilisi claimed there had been a fresh crossing of Georgian airspace by a Russian aircraft. The chief of the Russian general staff, Yury Baluyevsky, responded that the allegations were proof that “our Georgian colleagues have started hallucinating.”

Unreported and almost unnoticed, but at the same time, Saakashvili ordered his kin to apply to Moscow for financing to support Georgia’s principal mining company, Madneuli, in a bid to acquire goldmines and deposits across the border in Armenia and Azerbaijan. This month, Russian financing has covered the purchase of about $80 million in cash, plus assumption of debt, for the Zod gold mine and other assets controlled, until now, by Sterlite Gold, a wholly owned unit of Vedanta Resources, and its chief executive, Anil Agarwal.

Mineweb has reported for months that Agarwal was operating a silent auction of Sterlite’s Armenian assets, in defiance of Armenian government claims. Agarwal, Vedanta, and Sterlite said nothing to the market. Then, on August 15, eleven days after Mineweb revealed that Armenian government prosecutors had started court proceedings to revoke Sterlite’s licences, this announcement appeared on Sterlite’s website: “Sterlite Gold Ltd. (TSX:SGD) announced today that it has been advised of an agreement between its controlling shareholder, Vedanta Resources plc and GeoProMining Ltd. (”GeoProMining”), parent company of Georgian mining Joint Stock Company Madneuli, which may lead to an offer for the shares in Sterlite Gold. The Board of Directors will appoint an independent committee to receive, consider and make a recommendation regarding any proposal that may be made. Vedanta Resources plc, the holder of 84.2% of the common shares of Sterlite Gold, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with GeoProMining to tender its Sterlite Gold shares at a price of US$0.3845 per common share in cash. The Board of Directors of Sterlite Gold will communicate its views to shareholders on any offer made by GeoProMining once it has received and considered the recommendation of the independent committee.”

Sources close to the transaction say they value the Zod and related Armenian gold assets at $127 million on a debt-free basis. They believe Vedanta took $80 million in cash for the sale, plus a hand-off of obligations.
But the money didn’t come from GeoPromMining, nor from Madneuli. It came from a well-known Russian conglomerate called Industrial Investors, headed by a former state minister and ex-parliamentary deputy, Sergei Generalov. Sources close to him have been telling Mineweb for some time that they cannot speak on the record about the links between Industrial Investors, Generalov, his partner Siman Povarenkin, and the Georgian business. But they confirm that Generalov is bankrolling Madneuli in its bid for Armenian gold.
The reason why is not explained; but the question needs asking because Generalov is no gold miner. He has been focusing primarily on building up a transportation conglomerate with Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco); Trans-Garant, a freight railroad; National Container Company, Russia’s largest box transporter; a Baltic cargo feeder line operating from Rotterdam; and with a big new container terminal in planning for Riga, Latvia. Acquiring these assets has cost Generalov almost $850 million in debt in the past year — a heavy burden that is uncomfortable for him to bear. Last month, he offered investors a new share issue to raise $200 million in fresh cash.

Generalov is also uncomfortable to discuss the fact that Madneuli is controlled by President Saakashvili through his family. According to published remarks from Shalya Natelashvili, head of the Georgian Labour Party, “the president has played a cardsharp and stolen the gold of the Georgian people, and now it has passed into the personal possession of his family.” Natelashvili is referring to Madneuli strongman, Timur Alasaniya, Saakashvili’s uncle.

Public records and media reports from Georgia are full of scandal associated with Madneuli. In 2004, several executives were arrested, one of them in Switzerland, on warrants from the Georgian prosecutors alleging tax evasion. In 2005, the government arranged the privatization of its 97% stake in Madneuli, triggering recriminations from the parliamentary opposition. They allege that Saakashvili had arranged for his uncle to take control of the company through a British Virgin Islands front company, Stanton Equities, which was financed in turn by Industrial Investors. It was reported at the time that the sale price of $35 million (plus $16 million to cover debt obligations) was too little; Madneuli’s operating profit for the year was alleged to be around $60 million.

Generalov was asked today how he explains financing the Saakashvili family company in light of the strategic and military conflict between Georgia and Russia. He and his spokesman were not available, and did not respond.

So what exactly is a major Russian financial group, with a high-profile figure like Generalov, doing as business partner and banker to the Saakashvili family, while Saakashvili himself is lodging charges against Russia at the United Nations? In a page-long, friendly interview with Saakashvili, published by the Wall Street Journal last Monday, Saakashvili attacked his “hostile, powerful northern neighbour, even more powerful every day with oil money. But we can’t be living in a state of gloom and paranoia.” The president went on to explain how every time Russia attacks Georgia with commercial sanctions, cutting off wine import licences or gas supplies, “we had to work on developing new sources. Next year we’ll be fully supplied by Azerbaijani power.”
Saakashvili’s interviewer did not ask, and Saakashvili did not mention, the $80 million in mint Russian money delivered so recently to Madneuli. Nor did they react to the official statement, issued by the Azerbaijani government the same day, last Monday, attacking the Georgians for attempting to mine the Zod gold on territory that traditionally, and legally, belongs to Azerbaijan.

How much electricity Saakashvili can expect to get from a government which has officially ordered its Foreign Ministry to demand an explanation from the Georgian government in Tbilisi? According to the text of a statement by Arif Iskenderov from Azerbaijan’s Natural Resources Ministry, issued in Baku on August 27, the Madneuli partnership with Industrial Investors intends to mine unlawfully, because 73% of the Soyudlu (Zod) gold deposit is located on territory occupied by Armenian forces. Other estimates of the illegal extension of Armenian mining claims indicate that about 50% of the deposit belongs to Azerbaijan.

Russian sources confirm the position. They told Mineweb that, following the outbreak of inter-ethnic violence between Armenians and Azeris as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 and 1991, the Armenian army took control of the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan’s borders. They also moved on to land which was fully Azerbaijan’s during the Soviet administration. According to these sources, the Armenians then moved their border westwards, and for western miners interested in the Soviet-proved gold deposits, they changed the maps.

It is unclear what the Armenian government intends to do about the Georgian incursion, except support it. As Mineweb reported early this month, the Yerevan government had launched a court prosecution to revoke the gold mining licence issued in 1999 to the Ararat Gold Recovery Company (AGRC). This is the local operating affiliate of Sterlite Gold.

Officials in the General Prosecutor’s Office in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, confirmed at the time that the legal action also sought a judicial order cancelling all operating permits for ARGC, and freezing the company’s bank accounts and moveable property.

The prosecutors claimed they were also seeking payments by ARGC into the court of 4.6 billion Armenian drams ($14 million), plus another $10 million, to cover claims the Armenian government alleges are owed by the mining company to the state budget. Agarwal and his spokesmen refused to respond to Mineweb questions on the Armenian troubles.

Sources in Yerevan now claim that the case against Sterlite was suspended, and that no action has been taken to revoke the Zod licences. This suggests de facto endorsement of the transfer of the assets to Saakashvili and Generalov. But the Armenians appear to be undecided on the financial position. They reason that since they are the underlying owners of the assets, for which Vedanta has just taken $80 million, they must be owed something, too. Of course, this value is complicated, or zeroed, by the Azerbaijan government’s claim on the territory. The Armenians are thus looking to the “powerful northern neighbour” to show whether, in fact, it is backing Saakashvili to develop Zod — in defiance of the Azeris. Or whether Generalov and Uncle Timur have gone too far.

Saakashvili has a big interest in knowing the answer to that question, along with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. With its $80 million, Vedanta has gotten clear away from the shaky ground, under which the Zod gold is buried. But everyone left behind can see that a great deal more money will be required from the Saakashvili family and Generalov to satisfy the Armenians, and pacify the Azeris. And that’s before a single shovel can be driven into the ground for mining purposes. Saakashvili noted ruefully to the Wall Street Journal this week: “If you relax on corruption, it will come back in two months.”


By John Helmer in Moscow

LSE regulators and US government investigations trigger strategy differences on getting Rusal to market.

US and European banks are fighting among themselves over the terms of the proposed initial placement offering (IPO) of shares of United Company Rusal, the Russian owned bauxite miner and world’s no.2 aluminium producer.

The conflict between the bankers, and between shareholders in Rusal, is so intense, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), regulator of the UK market and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), has already appointed a team of specialists to analyse the disclosures, litigation, and lobbying documents that have been presented by advocates for and against Rusal, and its controlling shareholder, Oleg Deripaska.


By John Helmer in Moscow

For the hundred and fifty years between the Opium Wars and the end of World War II, the China Discount was notorious in the Shanghai Bund, on the bank of the Huangpu River. It represented the gap between the little western traders would agree to pay for Chinese-made goods, and the best their Chinese sellers hoped to fetch.

These days, China’s commercial demand has reversed the trading advantage. Since Chinese demand represents such a large share of the global market, especially in minerals and metals, the China Discount is now the gap between the price western sellers offer for their commodities, and what China agrees to pay. Converting the China Discount into a premium is the dream of all commodity exporters, but it is a commercial fight that requires nerves of steel.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Norway is one of those countries, inhabited by one of those peoples, which have exercised some of the greatest comedians in the English language – to little avail.

John Cleese once explained his assignment on behalf of the Norwegian Tourist Board, as he stepped out of a wet summer fjord wearing a business suit and snow-shoes. He said the only way to interest tourists in Norway was to make them laugh at the place. Much earlier, Saki had told the tale of a rich Londoner who paid a group of kidnappers, not to return his wife, but to keep her as reliably away from him as he thought possible — on a Norwegian island, above the Arctic Circle.



“It’s pleasant to be here, you feel comfortable, and you don’t feel people are watching you,” Roman Abramovich on buying Chelsea Football Club in London, for equity and debt totaling $240 million.

Russian villagers like to say that if you drink you die; and if you don’t drink you die, so it’s better to drink.

This is a characteristically pessimistic twist to Russian bravado. But among the Russian oligarchs who don’t lack chutzpah, it begs the question of whether their spending is as reckless as their drinking; and whether the recent behaviour of the oil plutocrats – men like Abramovich, whose source of wealth is the top-5 oil producer Sibneft, or Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the controlling shareholders of number-2 oil producer Yukos – reflects optimism, or pessimism, for their own futures. (more…)


By John Helmer in Moscow

Harry Lime was the character invented by novelist and one-time intelligence officer Graham Greene, who understood how an investment banker should operate when the breakdown of government makes the black market the only source of supply, trade, and profit. Lime’s racket in post-war Vienna, then occupied by the allied armies, was to steal penicillin from military hospitals; adulterate it by half; then sell it back at double the official price.

In the famous Ferris wheel conversation, high above the Vienna fairground, Lime is asked by his journalist friend about the morality of making a profit this way. Pointing to people on the ground, he responds: “If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?”.


By John Helmer

Armenia plans revocation of Zod gold mine licence, as Georgians push for bargain-priced asset flip

The Armenian Government goes to court on Monday of this week to revoke the gold mining licence issued in 1999 to the Ararat Gold Recovery Company (AGRC). This is the local operating affiliate of Sterlite Gold, which in turn is controlled by London-based Vedanta Resources and controlling shareholder, Anil Agarwal. The Armenian gold assets include two mines, Zod and Meghradzor, and an ore-processing plant at Ararat.

Officials in the General Prosecutor’s Office in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, have confirmed the legal action also seeks a judicial order cancelling all operating permits for ARGC, and freezing the company’s bank accounts and moveable property. The prosecutors are also seeking payments by AGRC into the court of 4.6 billion Armenian drams ($14 million), plus another $10 million, to cover claims the Armenian government alleges are owed by the mining company to the state budget.

Vardan Vardanyan, AGRC’s chief executive, is quoted in the Armenian media as saying the company is aware of the suit, but had no information yet about the specifics of the government’s claims.


By John Helmer in Moscow

The torch that Oleg Deripaska, controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal, is trying to pass to Alexander Bulygin, Rusal’s chief executive, is proving to be a hot potato.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that in its strategy for listing Rusal shares later this year on the London Stock Exchange, Bulygin has been designated to draw attention away from Deripaska in public, and is now identified by a company spokesman as “a key strategic decision maker for the company”. Watch that indefinite article.

The Journal also reported that Bulygin is having difficulty dealing with two gaffes which Deripaska made in an interview with the Financial Times early in July, when he claimed that Michael Cherney “had no relation to my business”; and that “if the state says we need to give it [Rusal] up, we’ll give it up.” Deripaska was responding to the two risks which industry analysts and financial advisors to Rusal have flagged as the principal obstacles to a successful LSE listing of the company — Cherney’s claim, currently in litigation in the UK High Court, that he owns 20% of Deripaska’s stake in the company; and the possibility that the Kremlin may have its own claim on Rusal.


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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