By John Helmer in Moscow

German miner Chronimet and America’s Comsup Commodities reveal mystery of Armenia’s molybdenum mines.

Molybdenum is a metal that doesn’t lose its cool.

Used in a variety of alloys for steel, it remains rigid at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and doesn’t melt until 4,730 degrees F, a point at which everything but four other natural elements have vaporized and disappeared.

The biggest source of demand for molybdenum alloys is in stainless steel production, and as this also consumes nickel, the price of molybdenum usually moves in parallel with nickel. If nickel and stainless steel prices are rising, so is molybdenum. When they decline, moly follows them down.

At least, that’s the theory.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Kremlin insiders fall into disarray over ‘strategic’ mineral resources.

Only in Russian politics can it be true that a politician, who is commanding in the polls, may also lack the authority to rule. And only in Russia is the political solution for this to lock everyone up.

In 1925, Mikhail Zoshchenko, the comedian of Russian life after the Communist revolution, wrote a tale called “Nervous People”. On the surface, it was about nothing more than an argument in a communal kitchen over whose property a pot-scourer was. “Nerves are always shaken after a civil war”, the narrator starts off his recounting. Two women started the fight; two men, one a cripple, joined it. The one-legged man came off worst, floored by a saucepan to the skull. The militiaman called to scene was able to break up the fight by shouting: “Get the coffins ready, you bastards! I’m going to shoot!” The melee dispersed, except for the cripple on the floor. Zoshchenko reminds the Soviet reader what always happens. “The People’s Judge was a nervous sort of man, too: he booked everyone.”


By John Helmer in Moscow

Can outsiders like Rio Tinto see who commands, who follows, in Russian uranium sector planning?

It was Winston Churchill who once epitomized what he didn’t know of Russians, and what he didn’t like, by describing them as bulldogs fighting under a rug.

In the Russian uranium business, the rug has been pulled so tightly, it has proved difficult to count the dogs involved, let alone identify them by name or authority. It’s one reason why the South African government, plus major international uranium miners like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Cameco, have found themselves in negotiations for uranium projects with the Russians — without being confident of who among them has the power to follow up their intentions, and implement their undertakings.

In the case of Rio Tinto, the problem appears to have been compounded by fierce internal divisions among Rio executives ambitious to make deals, but reluctant to share the limited intelligence they have with their own colleagues. Here it seems to have been a case of bulldogs on rugs barking at bulldogs under rugs.


By John Helmer in Moscow

At the Antwerp diamond conference Alrosa and De Beers switch positions on value of diamond beneficiation.

Diamond-miners are wolves; diamond-cutters are sheep.

At least that’s the way it has usually appeared to the governments of countries fortunate enough to supervise lucrative mineable diamond deposits. Expressed in terms of the diamond supply pipeline, the mark-up in value of diamond mine sales, compared to the costs of production at the minehead, can be a wolfish 500%. By contrast, the mark-up in value of the polished, which cutters realize in relation to the cost of the rough they buy, can be a sheepish 25%.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian diamond manufacturers have reacted critically towards Alrosa chief executive, Sergei Vybornov, attacking key proposals he made at last week’s Antwerp Diamond Conference.

Vybornov ousted Alexander Nichiporuk from the top spot at Alrosa in February. But after a string of misstatements drew fire from domestic policymakers, he has limited his appearances, and declined requests for public interviews.

Last week, at the Antwerp Diamond Conference, Vybornov took aim at African governments for establishing domestic diamond cutting centres and local beneficiation to add profitability to diamond mining.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Litigators and analysts look for cash inside Russia’s global aluminium giant.

Most of the trouble Oleg Deripaska, controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal, has faced in the court claims confronting him in the past, and the one from Mikhail Chernoy (Michael Cherney) he currently faces in London, comes from the fact that Deripaska seems not to have the money, with which to meet his debts and obligations.

The claims of Cherney’s High Court lawsuit, including shares, dividends, proceeds from Rusal asset sales, and Rusal-funded transfers to Deripaska’s personal holding and other companies can be estimated at more than $5 billion. These claims are against Rusal, Deripaska, his Moscow holding Basic Element, and his worldwide assets.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Mystery American company takes concession to mine large antimony reserves in Tajikistan.

Antimony is one of the rare metals for whom new applications are being devised in electronics, battery manufacture, and flame retardants, but whose worldwide supply is fast running out.

That imbalance between supply and demand makes for highly volatile prices, and the behaviour of the Chinese, who control the world’s largest reserves and annual output, as well as the world’s largest demand, has driven the price cycle sharply up and down over the past decade. Antimony hit its previous price peak in 1995-96, at $5,000 per metric ton, or about $2.27 per pound. The price then collapsed by December 2001 to $1,000/tonne, 45 cents/lb. The revival of Chinese demand, outstripping domestic production, started the price moving upward since then. It reached $5,350/tonne, $2.43/lb, in July 2007. Industry projections for antimony indicate that it will strike $6,000/tonne, $2.73/lb, later this quarter, and remain at least as high for the next three years.


By John Helmer in Moscow

De Beers’s arsenal resists Usmanov attack on the Grib pipe and the Arsenal pitch.

A public relations blitz under way this month in London and the UK media has produced charges and counter-charges involving Alisher Usmanov, an iron-ore and steel magnate. He is accused of conspiring with other Russians to defraud a De Beers-affiliated company of its 40% stake in, and several hundred millions of dollars in future profits from, the only major diamond deposit newly discovered in northwestern Russia.

Usmanov has had run-ins with the London press before. The first time, in 2003 and 2004, was when he started buying shares of the then Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, and was rebuffed by the Corus board, which went on to sell itself to Tata of India. Usmanov found his champion at the time at the Financial Times. He also pocketed a substantial profit from the rise in the Corus share price.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Open warfare declared at Russia’s largest gold miner exposes Lord Gillford, and starts a run at Polyus assets.

On their annual day of atonement for a year of sinning, the biblical Hebrews used to beat a goat over a cliff; or drive him into the desert to be devoured by the demon Azazel, carrying their sins with him.

From this substitution come our term, scapegoat; and the Hebrew exclamation, ‘lekh la-Azazel’, meaning ‘Go to hell’. This week Russian gold mining executive Pavel Skotvich discovered what it’s like to be the former, while Polyus shareholders discovered what it feels to be in the latter.

It has cost Polyus shareholders already this year $133 million in share options value to see off Chief Executive Officer Yevgeny Ivanov, Chief Financial Officer Alexei Osenmuk, and another executive, German Pikhoya, a few weeks ago. Ivanov took about $100 million; the others divided the balance.They had been insisting on the payoff, after counting how much Polyus Board Chairman Mikhail Prokhorov had been gathering from gains on his shares, as well as transactions.


By John Helmer

Armenian officials in charge of mining and natural resource licensing say they have yet to decide whether to approve the transfer of ownership of Zod, Armenia’s principal goldmine, from the Vedanta Resources group company, Sterlite Gold, to Madneuli, a Georgian company financed by Sergei Generalov, a Russian shipping magnate.

According to recent public announcements by Aram Harutunian, Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources in Yerevan, his ministry’s requirements for the Ararat Gold Recovery Company (ARGC) — the locally based affiliate of Sterlite, the licence holder for Zod — must be fulfilled before the transfer of control of the mining concession can be approved.

At a press conference on September 28, Harutunian said that his ministry had yet to receive a formal request from Zod’s new owner. “So far, the Indian side in the form of Vedanta Resources Corporation remains the debtor to the Armenian Government”, Harutunian said. He added that the debts and obligations owed to the government by Vedanta amounted to the value of the gold which government inspectors accuse ARGC of concealing in their processing of tailings and other mine operations.

Armenian sources have told Mineweb this totals about 3 tonnes, or 96,450 ounces. At current prices, this is worth about $73 million. If the Armenians make this payment a precondition of Madneuli’s shareholding takeover of Sterlite and operating control of the Zod licences, the deal to replace Vedanta in Armenia may collapse.

Before and during Vedanta’s sale negotiations, the government in Yerevan had conducted licence checks; imposed a bank account freeze on ARGC; suspended work at the Zod site; and launched court proceedings with the threat to revoke ARGC’s licences altogether. If the government were to revoke the Zod licences, then Madneuli’s purchase of Sterlite would be worthless.

The official Armenian statement by Harutunian followed announcements between August 17 and September 27 of the sale and purchase agreement between Vedanta and Sterlite on the one hand, and Madneuli and parent company, GeoPromMining, on the other. Mineweb reported the details at:

Madneuli offered to pay $97.48 million in cash, and assumed several obligations in Armenia: loans outstanding to Sterlite and ARGC of about $27 million; debts to mine contractors and equipment suppliers of about $5 million; and claims by the Armenian government. Taxes, fines and penalties have previously been reported at about $5 million.

Altogether, but not counting Harutunian’s 3-tonne claim, Madneuli/GeoProMining have agreed to pay $139 million. A demand for another $73 million, or the revocation of the Zod licences, would be a deal-breaker.
Asked to confirm the government’s claims, and identify what precisely they are, Harutunian’s spokesman Artsum Peponyan told Mineweb “the claims are well grounded, and should be paid anyway, no matter who will own the company.” But as to the amount, he said: “I have reviewed all the data, and have been trying to find out information on the exact number, but it is impossible.” He repeated that the minister had been correctly cited by the government news agency, Arminfo, when it reported Harutunian as saying on September 28 that “whoever is Ararat Gold Recovery Company’s (AGRC) new owner, he will be obliged to pay the sum adequate to the gold volume concealedby the company.” According to Peponian, “the statement in ArmInfo is absolutely correct.”

The difficulties in Yerevan have obliged Sergei Generalov, owner of the Moscow-based Industrial Investors group and financier of Madneuli, to try negotiating with the Armenian officials. These talks have yet to produce agreement. “Thedeal is not yet finalized,” Generalov’s spokesman, Oleg Rumyantsev told Mineweb. “We hope to close the deal by the middle of October.”

Asked about Harutunian’s 3-tonne premium, Rumyantsev said: “Industrial investors are well informed about the situation around the enterprise, but I am not ready to comment on [this issue]now.”

Rumyantsev has confirmed that Industrial Investors is financing Madneuli; Madneulihas confirmed that Industrial Investors is financing its development. There is additional confirmation that Madneuli is controlled by Timur Alasaniya, a senior member of the family of Georgia’s President, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Rumyantsev complains that there aredetails in Mineweb’s reporting of the affair which “couldn’t be considered the truth…I can understand why this is written by Georgian oppositionists, or our ‘well-wishers’ in Russia, but I didn’t expect this from your bureau.” The one detail Rumyantsev cited as Mineweb’s misreporting was the price at which the state shareholding in Madneuli was privatized in 2005. The World Bank privatization database reports the transaction value of the privatization as $35 million, and this is the figure Mineweb reported:

Butthe correct figure was $51.1 million, Rumyantsev says. In its announcement of November 2, 2005, the Georgian Ministry of Economic Development said that the winning bid for Madneuli was $35.1 million “and additional 16 000 000 USD to pay Madneuli’s liabilities towards Georgia’s State Budget.” When this sum was paid, and why the World Bank did not include it in the transaction value, are not known.

Rumyantsev also challenged Mineweb’s reporting that Madneuli is controlled by Georgian President Saakashvili’s uncle, Timur Alasaniya. He told Mineweb that Stanton Equities Corporation, the vehicle used by Generalov and Industrial Investors to acquire the state share in Madneuli, “doesn’t belong to Timur Alasaniya”.

If the 3-tonne premium turns out to be a calculated move by Armenian officials to create a stumbling block for Madneuli, then rival bidders can be expected to appear shortly in pursuit of the Zod concession.


By John Helmer in Moscow

A public relations blitz under way in London and the UK media has produced charges and counter-charges involving Alisher Usmanov, an iron-ore and steel magnate, who was named in US court papers as one of the principal defendants in the affair of the Grib pipe, a major diamond deposit in northwestern Russia.

The allegations against Usmanov, and his campaign to rebut them, follow his acquisition of a bloc of shares in the Arsenal Football Club, and his attempt to buy more shares, and possible control of the club from other shareholders.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Gold Fields’ sale of its Venezuelan gold assets to Rusoro is a profitable relief

There is a traditional Russian toast that can be roughly translated: “May we have more pies and doughnuts, fewer black eyes and bruises!”

After selling its loss-making Venezuelan gold assets at a profit to Rusoro Mining last week, Gold Fields has publicly raised its glass to toast the new buyers luck — not least of all, because Rusoro is making a great deal in public of its Russian connexions for solving the black eyes and bruises Gold Fields desired to be rid of in Venezuela.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Controversy deepens in Moscow over a controversial gold licence extension for Highland Gold, and licence trouble starts brewing elsewhere

Somebody in Moscow seems to think that Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold miner, is in horticultural terms ‘a weed’.

In one of Jim Thompson’s thrillers, the killer is told by his attorney that there’s nothing wrong with him, except that he’s a weed. That is then defined: “a weed is a plant out of place”. Barrick is very untalkative about its projects, operations, and spending in Russia, but there appears to be nothing wrong with them. But in two parallel attacks in recent days, Barrick has seems to have been targeted for being in the wrong place.


By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian government has become the first in the world to tell billionaire industrialist Lakshmi Mittal to take his cash and his steel mills elsewhere.

India’s and England’s richest individual, and the world’s largest steelmaker, Lakshmi Mittal has been suffering from a defect of hearing, apparently not understanding the message, when it had been passed discreetly.

Then on Friday morning, following the auction of almost 4 billion tonnes of Russian coal assets, from which Mittal had been disqualified, a minor state property official announced that the government will take five days before sending Mittal a letter, explaining the reasons for his exclusion.


By John Helmer in Moscow

In Tajikistan, the nexus between water, electricity, and aluminium turns out to be a dark secret — and a presidential treasure

It’s difficult to run a country in the dark.

Politicians who leave voters in the cold, unable to cook or keep warm, become unpopular with the flick of a switch . Swarms of secret police can’t offset the damage that having no electricity causes.

President Emomali Rahmon (Rahmonov), the 55-year old who has run Tajikistan for the past 15 years, understands the problem, and suspects his rivals of manipulating electricity supply to Tajikistan with the aim of toppling him, and those of his extended family with the ambition to keep power for another generation.


By John Helmer

Sterlite Gold reveals $140 million payday from Russian-funded Georgian gold miner. It has been a mixed week for Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili

On September 26 he took to the podium of the UN General Assembly in New York to accuse Russia of interfering in his country’s internal affairs, and acting in “reckless and dangerous” fashion. He was referring to the deaths of two Russian military men, shot dead by Georgian forces a week before, in what Saakashvili termed a “law enforcement operation”. Whether the deaths occurred on Georgian territory, or on the territory of the breakaway region of Abkhazia, isn’t clear.

On September 27,Irakli Okruashvili, a former Georgian defence minister under Saakashvili, who has started campaigning to replace him at next year’s elections, publicly accused the president of corruption, and of ordering him to arrange the deaths of political opponents. The next day, Okruashvili was arrested and charged with extortion, money laundering, abuse of power and negligence during his time as defence minister.

The same day, the Saakashvili family enjoyed a big pay-day.

Mineweb reported recently on an unusual transaction, in which the Georgian gold miner Madneuli outbid a number of bidders for the Zod gold licences and operations in Armenia, buying them from Sterlite Gold, a Canadian registered affiliate of Vedanta Resources: here.

Details of the transaction were first announced on August 17 in a terse statement by Sterlite. Sterlite, the company claimed, “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 deal, according to the release, was that Vedanta “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.”

GeoPromMining, a Tortola-registered entity, followed on September 27, the deadline for its offer, with a completion disclosure. It said it had acquired 253,526,305 Sterlite Gold shares, representing 95.6% of the stock outstanding. The sale and purchase price was $0.3845 per share. “GeoProMining intends to acquire the remaining Sterlite Gold common shares by means of a statutory compulsory acquisition…at the same price as the Offer price, and to de-list the shares from the Toronto Stock Exchange.” The offer value of the entire company amounts to $102 million.

Sterlite, and its owner Anil Agarwal, were saying goodbye to the only business it had, Zod, for a cash payment from Madneuli of $97.48 million. Ernst & Young had been conducting a silent auction of the asset for months, and this process had also revealed that Sterlite’s Armenian operations had loans outstanding and related debts of about $27 million. Settlement payments to resolve tax and other claims by the Armenian government, also reported in Mineweb, totalled $5 million; while there were miscellaneous obligations to mine contractors and equipment suppliers of about $5 million. Altogether, the takeover has, and will cost Madneuli/GeoProMining about $139 million.

There are subtleties revealed in the figuring of this transaction, which raise the question of why the Georgian miner would pay so much for assets in as much trouble as Mineweb has already chronicled: here.

Madneuli’s valuation is also controversial. It was privatized by the Georgian government for $35 million in 2005,and is currently owned by Timur Alasaniya. He is President Saakashvili’s uncle.

The privatization of the company, the leading gold and copper miner in Georgia, has since been called a steal by Saakashvili’s political critics and opponents. Financial details for Madneuli are difficult to come by.

Saakashvili’s critics claim the company netted $60 million in profit the year of the privatization. This number is doubtful; the sale figure is confirmed by the World Bank.

The gold resource attributed by one western source to the Madneuli deposit in southern Georgia is 350,435 oz. Silver, copper and other minerals are also mined at the deposit, which has been worked for 30 years. A gold resource estimate for the deposit published by Anglo Asian Mining indicates 23.5 tonnes (756,000 oz). When an Australian junior Bolnisi Gold worked in a joint venture with Madneuli, only to fall out with the company and abandon Georgia entirely, the Australians estimated indicated and inferred gold resources at a total of 780,000 oz. Before the conflict with Madneuli halted mining operations, and then forced Bolnisi’s exit in 2005, Bolnisi reports show aggregate production of 482,636 oz of gold between May 1, 1997 and December 12, 2005. Silver produced in the same period amounted to 248,725 oz. Bolnisi estimated its cash operating cost at $199/oz.

There is nothing comparable for production detail or financials from Madneuli; the company website discloses just two words, “under construction”. Georgian export data for the year 2005 indicate the maximum revenues Madneuli could have generated that year in shipments of copper ores and concentrates for $36.4 million, and gold for $34.7 million. Total suggested revenues for Madneuli, $70.70 million.

Bolnisi reported that its 50% stake in the joint venture with Madneuli earned gross profit from the sale of gold and silver in 2005 of $11.4 million, and positive cash flow from operating activities in the same period of $6.8 million.

This patchwork of data allows a maximum valuation of the company’s gold resources at half a billion dollars, but there is no telling what probability should be assigned to production value, or earnings. In terms of Ebitda, Madneuli appears to be in the double-digits, but no more. In terms of investor risk — after the Bolnisi affair — the discount for the company should be high.

When the general director of Madneuli, Geula Akobia, was interviewed in September 2006, he said his “main partners are German companies”. He also claimed:”I am very happy that United States is our strategic partner.” Missing entirely then, and also now, is the fact that Madneuli’s financing comes from Russia, and from Sergei Generalov’s Industrial Investors group in Moscow. It was Generalov, who, initially deposited the funds in escrow required by Sterlite and Vedanta to secure the transaction in August. It is Generalov who has supplied the $97.48 million cash payment, and will cover the additional financing requirements.

Two weeks after Sterlite’s sale to Madneuli was announced, Generalov was asked by Mineweb whether he had discussed the deal, and Saakashvili’s involvement in it, with the Kremlin, and whether he had received approval. Mineweb was told: “I can’t tell you either yes, nor no.” Generalov promised an announcement on September 14.

Nothing appeared on that day, however. In the meantime, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, the former Russian defence minister, read the Mineweb report of Generalov’s financing of the Saakashvili family venture. Ivanov is a candidate to succeed President Vladimir Putin next March. He is also the senior government official in charge of the maritime sector, overseeing Generalov’s principal line of business, the Fesco shipping, ports and transport group.

If the Kremlin is considering what is to be done about Generalov bankrolling Saakashvili, it will be Ivanov who will report to the Security Council. And it is Ivanov who is best positioned to remind Generalov that he is putting the heavily leveraged Fesco group at potential risk.

Ivanov told Mineweb through a spokesman that he will make no public comment.


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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