Nigeria’s President Yar’Adua promises US to reopen Rusal smelter deal.
Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who controls UC Rusal, the world’s second largest producer of aluminium, is in hot water in Nigeria, and in Washington, DC, as US companies have persuaded the Bush Administration to back them in a bid to oust Deripaska from the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon).
Leading the new US charge at a meeting on November 27 with the President of Nigeria, Umuru Musa Yar’Adua, are Reuben Jaja and his Los Angeles-based Bancorp Financial Investment Group (BFIG). BFIG has been suing Rusal in the Nigerian and US courts for abuse of the privatization process that awarded Alscon to Rusal on a low bid in 2004. Mineweb has reported the blow-by-blow action: http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page36?oid=18731&sn=Detail (more…)
Adam Smith hides his talent — making Tajik mining’s sow’s ear into a silk purse.
A European Commission (EC) contract to promote foreign mining investment in Tajikistan collapsed this month into denials and mystification, as the deputy head of the Tajikistan government’s committee on foreign investment claims he has never heard of it. A US project consultant and the London-based Adam Smith international, for which he worked, claim their task was to staunch a growing loss of confidence on the part of international resource investors, not promote fresh investment.
The apparent hitch in the promotional effort comes as Norwegian investigators probe financial relations between the state-controlled Hydro Aluminium company and Tajikistan aluminium Plant (Talco aka TadAZ), the dominant enterprise and principal export earner of the economy, which is personally directed by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. According to many sources in Dushanbe and in the international mining community, Rahmon is part of the problem. According to the annual Tajikistan country report from the International Monetary Fund, issued on April 27, Rahmon told the IMF that “governance concerns, which continue to plague Tajikistan, are seriously affecting the business climate and private sector growth.” (more…)
Russian oligarchs use the media for pressure on price and financing terms for change of ownership at Norilsk Nickel.
The Arab bedouin had a term for it – the jackals’ wedding. That’s a marriage of convenience between angry dogs, who couple for a single night, and then bite each other, as they pursue their own game for the rest of their lives.
This week, at a party-political rally in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin also referred to the rule of oligarchs as rapacious dogs. “They want to come back,” he said, of the factions which had ruled Russia during the Yeltsin period, “to return to power, to spheres of influence, and gradually restore oligarchic rule based on corruption and lies. Unfortunately, inside the country there are those who scrounge at foreign embassies, importune diplomatic missions, count on the support of foreign funds and governments, and not the support of their own people.” (more…)
The apparent owner and board chairman of the Zasyadko mine has been targeted for blame in Ukraine’s worst mine explosion by surviving miners.
Miners who survived the catastrophic methane explosion at the Zasyadko mine in the Ukraine on Sunday say that the mine’s chairman and apparent proprietor, Yefim Zvagilsky, is to blame for unsafe working conditions at the mine, and for imposing steep shift production quotas that led to the suppression of methane detection and shut-off systems.
The accident occurred on November 18 in the Donetsk area of eastern Ukraine. 457 miners were working the overnight shift, when a methane explosion occurred at the Zasyadko pit. A total of 90 miners are confirmed dead; 10 are still missing; 30 are hospitalized. The explosion and fire at a depth of more than a thousand metres has continued to burn; it incinerated most of the dead miners beyond recognition. The fatalities amount to the worst death toll in a Ukrainian coal-mine since 2000. (more…)
Suddenly this month, Hydro Aluminum, the state-led metal producer of Norway, has been called to public account by senior members of the Norwegian Parliament; by independent Norwegian experts; and by Norway’s trade and foreign ministers over the terms of alumina and aluminum contracts the company signed last December with the Tajikistan Aluminum Plant (Talco, aka TadAZ).
The Norwegian concern is focused on allegations of corruption among Tajik government officials involved in the aluminum business, and on what Hydro knows and is doing about it.
At the same time, Adam Smith International (ASI), a London-based consultancy specializing in Asian development, is stumbling silently over the terms of a contract, recently awarded by the Tajik government, to promote resistance among foreign investors to concerns about the risk posed by stories of corruption in the country. (more…)
De Beers, NM Rothschild hold secret talks which could result in the release of Russian diamond asset
How long must the clock tick before disclosure delayed turns into news concealed, and insider trading?
Speculators on the share value of Toronto-listed Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) — ticker AAD — thought they knew enough to start buying shares of the company after it reached a year-low of 35 cents (Canadian) on October 31. As the Bloomberg chart shows, on or about November 1, someone started buying, and the share price rocketed upward by 43%: Bloomberg ticker.
Trading in ADC has been so rare, and the share so illiquid, that the Bloomberg charts show the speculative jump has occurred on just four transactions, totaling just 29,200 shares. The biggest of the trades, dwarfing all others for the past six months, was 19,000. Unlike the earlier big trades on record, this one was a purchase, not a sale. The amount of money involved was paltry, but the motive serious. (more…)
Russian diamond cutters face shutdown of operations or domestic supplies if VAT tax waiver is abolished on January 1.
Alrosa, Russia’s dominant supplier of rough, has sent a notice to domestic diamond cutters, warning that from January 1, it will add 18% value-added tax (VAT) to its rough diamond pricing. The diamond cutters have told Mineweb that, while they understand the move as a cost-cutting expedient for Alrosa, the impact will be ruinous for the low-margin manufacturers. They have asked Alrosa to reconsider, and delay the move for another twelve months, in order to allow time for the government to be persuaded to send a zero-tax amendment to tax legislation for enactment by parliament.
There is suspicion that Alrosa’s move is aimed at reducing the presence in Russia of foreign cutting enterprises, and boosting Alrosa’s cutting plants at their expense. At present, Alrosa reports that its own polished sales amount to about $160 million per annum. This trails well behind sector leader, Smolensk Kristall, which is state owned, and reports sales of $358 million in 2006; and Ruis Diamonds, which is controlled by Lev Leviev, and sells over $220 million in polished. According to one of Moscow’s leading cutters, “I wouldn’t say that Alrosa is making this move intentionally to destroy the remainder of the Russian cutting industry, but this [VAT] decision would be a catastrophe.” (more…)
Suddenly this month, Hydro Aluminium, the state-led metal producer of Norway, has been called to public account by senior members of the Norwegian parliament; by independent Norwegian experts; and by Norway’s Trade and Foreign Ministers over the terms of alumina and aluminium contracts it signed last December with the Tajikistan Aluminium Plant (Talco, aka TadAZ). The focus of the Norwegian concern is allegations of corruption among Tajik government officials involved in the aluminium business, and on what Hydro knows, and is doing about it.
Talco is currently turning out about 450,000 tonnes of aluminium a year, worth about $1.2 billion on the international market. In December 2004, the Tajik government initiated a purge of the plant’s management, and defaulted on sale and purchase agreements with the ousted management, and with Hydro. The Norwegians sued for recovery in London; won a $150 million award in compensation for non-delivery of 80,000 tonnes of aluminium; collected compensation from a syndicate of insurers; and concealed the bookkeeping loss, and the payoff, in its consolidated accounts. Hydro has told Mineweb this isn’t concealment, because “the net exposure was immaterial for reporting purposes.” (more…)
Israelis claim Russian identity to announce Angolan diamond mine venture.
That Russian mining companies have deep pockets and Kremlin clout is a handle that has been tried on South African gold bugs and the Canadian venture investor market with modest and shortlived effect. But it is unheard-of for a group of Israelis engaged in the telephone and internet business to portray themselves in Angola as Russian diamond-miners, especially when the leading Israeli diamantaire in Angola appears not to have heard of them either.
Notwithstanding, Tomer Peirce was welcomed when he stepped off his aircraft at Luanda airport recently; according to the Angolan News Agency, Peirce had gone to Angola for the Russian Diamonds Company. It was reported that he and his company are negotiating terms of participation in a new Angolan diamond venture called the Mualengue project. (more…)
BlackRock pays bargain-basement price for Russian gold miner after IPO fails.
The controversial US equity fund manager BlackRock, part-owned by Merrill Lynch, has failed in a bid to keep secret two transactions in which the fund appears to have acquired 34% of the shares of a small Russian gold miner, GV Gold. This follows two failed bids by GV Gold itself to sell its shares to the market this year, through a London initial public offering (IPO).
According to the official notice on November 2 from the Russian government’s market regulator, BlackRock’s UK affiliate has bought 209,000 shares in GV Gold at $80 per share for $16.7 million. The sale-purchase transaction for 10% of GV Gold’s stock values the mining company at just $167 million. That is three times less than GV Gold’s controlling shareholders set as their IPO target in February, and again in May of this year, when their IPO proposal found no-one willing to buy at that price. (more…)
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.”
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 @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
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.”
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.
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 @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
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.
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 bilificationof society.
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.