A pledge to privatize Alrosa in an initial public offering (IPO) within 18 months, reported to have come from Alrosa chief executive Sergei Vybornov this week in Japan, has run into scepticism and cautions from diamond sector officials in Moscow.
According to a Russian news agency report, Vybornov told a Japanese investment conference in Osaka: “In the nearest future, I mean within a year or a year and a half, we are planning an IPO.”
Asked to confirm that Vybornov was correctly reported, his office in Moscow said it was under instructions not to comment. (more…)
As Chelyabinsk Zinc issues new shares, is the market ready for a pick-me-up?
Chelyabinsk Zinc, Russia’s dominant zinc miner and refiner, is to issue 49 million new shares this week to existing shareholders, at par value of 1 rouble (4 US cents). The company, known as Chelzinc for short (CZP is the Russian acronym) said the share issue is not designed to raise additional funds. Instead, the restructuring of the shareholding will give each shareholder 9 additional shares for every common share already held; 10 common shares will now equal a single Global Depositary Receipt (GDR), first listed in London last November.
In the past 52 weeks, Chelzinc’s share price has ranged between a high of $17.70, when the metal price was moving up, to a low of $11.12. The current price is around $12. (more…)
For mining and metals, Russia’s new cabinet is the same as the old one — business as usual
In less than a week, the bright promise of the Zubkov presidency of Russia has evaporated, and amid a bad case of election nerves inside the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin himself has announced a set of cabinet appointments that appear to reverse several recommendations the week-old prime ministry had recommended. The status quo ante will now oversee the election campaigns for parliament in December and the presidency next March.
The market impacts registered to date are neutral to optimistic.”No surprise in structure, policy, little surprise in personalities,” commented Renaissance Capital, an active bookrunner for asset valuations at risk of heavy backtax claims. (more…)
Russian potash leader to sell London IPO on link to booming mineral price.
Uralkali, Russia’s leading potash producer, announced this morning that it intends to issue an initial placement offering (IPO) in the London market, with pricing to be fixed in October, according to market sources.
The company’s principal shareholder Madura Holdings, which is owned by Uralkali’s board chairman, Dmitry Rybolovlev who currently holds 80% of the shares outstanding, will sell the shares.
According to the last market report from UBS, Uralkali shares (ticker URKA:RTS) are trading on the Russian RTS market at $3.35, with a market cap of $7.1 billion. UBS calculates that this is 116% above the share price at the start of this year. (more…)
The news that Oleg Deripaska – zaitschik, “rabbit”, as he was known when younger – has been overtaken, and overturned, by JP Morgan Cazenove and Goldman Sachs, was front-page on Friday. In a carefully worded despatch, the Financial Times claimed the world’s largest aluminium industry share flotation, and the London Stock Exchange’s biggest new listing for this year, had not failed, so much as been put “on hold because of market conditions”. A prospectus for the Rusal share issue was purportedly drafted a month ago, but it had not been filed with the UK Listing Authority, the market regulator, so Rusal “could monitor market conditions”. A meeting of the Rusal board of directors, on Wednesday September 19, had decided not to proceed with the share sale “because of market turmoil and liqudity worries.” (more…)
Contest for Tajik gold licenses warms up President Rahmon, as Chinese miners fuel the bidding.
A group of Tajik men were recently taken by surprise, in the woods outside Moscow, when they spotted an animal they had never seen before. “Small bear!” “Small bear!” they shouted in excitement to a Russian nearby, summoning her to come quickly.
The Russian ran to the scene, for sightings of bears are rare near Moscow – unless the creature has escaped from a zoo or circus. A young bear on its own, apart from its parent, or human handler, is even rarer. But as soon as the Russian followed the pointed fingers of the Tajiks to the high branch of a tree, it became clear the animal they were looking at was – a squirrel. (more…)
Russia’s new prime minister will reprice asset value in Russian mining, gold, and energy.
Madame de Montespan, the only one of French King Louis XIV’s mistresses to combine beauty and brains, used to say: “secrets add to the taste of things.” Intelligence officers don’t have to be either beautiful or smart to relish the same taste.
At the end of a surprising week in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin, and his new prime minister, Victor Zubkov, are enjoying their ability to have revealed a secret not a soul had anticipated. The best the political and investment communities have made of Wednesday’s appointment of Zubkov as prime minister is that a surprise had been anticipated — but not this one.
Zubkov is the second loyalist President Vladimir Putin has appointed as prime minister. He is also the second finance ministry man to rise to the top of the cabinet table; but a very different one from Mikhail Kasyanov, the prime minister Putin inherited from ex-President Boris Yeltsin, and then took three years to get rid of. (more…)
Russia’s new Prime Minister Victor Zubkov has moved from obscurity to presidential status in half a day, showing character not seen in Moscow for 25 years.
The man, whose name in Russian means “tooth”, shows he has mettle and bite – confidence in himself, pride in what he has done, and toughness toward what he must do, characteristics last on display in Moscow when Yuri Andropov took charge. That was in November 1982, when the Soviet Union was still going strong, and Andropov, head of the KGB, took over the country two days after the death of Leonid Brezhnev.
In Asia, the most likely reactions to Zubkov are a sigh of relief in Beijing and renewed frustration in Tokyo. If the Andropov model forecasts anything, applied to Russia’s future as energy, minerals and metals supplier to the factories of northern Asia, it means more certainty for China, less for Japan. (more…)
Saddleback Gold recruits General Sir Mike Jackson in an attempt to do battle for the Tajikistan gold sector.
It has been 140 years since last two English adventurers walked into Tajikistan with a sales pitch of commercial goods and guns, and with the barely concealed intention to beat the Russians.
Back then Robert Shaw, a Sandhurst trained soldier, and George Hayward, a member of the Royal Geographical Society, met Yakub Beg, ruler of what was then called Chinese Turkestan.
Yakub saw the Englishmen as an opportunity to enlist London to protect his fledgling kingdom against a Russian takeover, or a return of Chinese overlords. Shaw wanted to make more money than he could selling Indian tea. Hayward was a spy, commissioned to map the Pamir mountain passes through which London suspected that Russian troops might attack the Indian colonies. (more…)
The break-up of the partnership controlling Norilsk Nickel and Polyus Gold grows more interesting by the day.
A half-century ago, hardboiled US city cops used to prosecute the so-called badger game. At its origin, this involved a woman luring a man into a compromising position, only to be caught in flagrante by the woman’s “husband”; in fact, her accomplice. The victim was then told to pay blackmail to avoid exposure by the “badger”.
Very occasionally, more in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett than in reality, the badger got nabbed, and sent up.
This past January, when Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest mining entrepreneurs, was arrested and sent to prison in the French city of Lyon, he believed he had been framed by his partner, Vladimir Potanin. The two are co-controlling shareholders of Norilsk Nickel and Polyus Gold, the dominant Russian hard-rock mining companies listed internationally. (more…)
Russian steelmaker makes billion-dollar bid for Fortescue without explanation to the Russian market.
When Victor Rashnikov, owner of Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), was in London in April, trying to persuade shareholders to buy up to 14% of his shares, he claimed that the steel mill, Russia’s largest, had secured its iron-ore requirements for the next decade, and the decade after that, from Kazakhstan, just 380 kilometres from the plant.
Rashnikov omitted to reveal that he had already spent $130 million buying shares in Fortescue Metals Group, developer of a large new iron-ore deposit in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, several thousand kms from MMK.
Last week, Rashnikov gave surprise notice — to Australia’s financial regulator, but not to MMK shareholders — that he is planning to spend up to another billion dollars on lifting his stake in Fortescue to about 16%. The buyout target, suggested by Australian reports, is a 9.9% shareholding in Fortescue currently owned by Leucadia National Corporation of the US. Rashnikov, the Australian regulatory disclosures revealed, already holds about 5.4% of Fortescue. Crossing the 15% shareholding barrier by a foreign investor requires Australian government permission. (more…)
Mitvol ignores London and goes to US to explain Russian mining rules
Roald Dahl once wrote a comedy about a man whose mental powers included the ability to see through cards. Understandably, he spent his life slipping through casino doors, only to be evicted from the gaming table as soon as he was recognized.
Oleg Mitvol, the chief mine licence regulator of Russia, carries a remote computer device that enables him, he says, to see through cards — the reserve estimates, that is, of mining companies licensed to develop oil, gas, and hard rock properties in Russia. As a regulator, he’s in charge of the casino. When he turned down an opportunity in May to visit London to discuss Russian regulatory policy with UK regulators, that was because, Mitvol said, the Ministry of Natural Resources, to which Mitvol belongs, wasn’t ready. (more…)
Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.
There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.
There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.
Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers. In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.
Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.
How little the Germans have changed.
But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.” By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”
So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.
China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.
The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.
In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022, is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.
There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself. Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”
This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.
The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.
Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age, after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.
After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster history to be her own joke.
Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself. This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.
In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English: the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.
The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British. Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating. The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin BlueLine (d. 1996).
The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion), Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok) are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences. The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.
Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money. “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.
By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.
The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.
Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.
China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years. The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.
So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.
The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).
A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester, he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018, claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.
Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”
Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.
After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.
The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.”
Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.
New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.
Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes, it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.
The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.
The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory. The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.
“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”
“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”
The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image). McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.
Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.
Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.
In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.
Those lighting Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral pyre are torching the truth of the matter – that Gorbachev was a liar of monumental vanity who betrayed his country out of greed and incompetence, outpointed by his adversaries in Moscow, Washington, and London because they knew him better than he knew himself.