Lakshmi Mittal buys loss-making Russian coalmines in the middle of nowhere.
Meerkats are among the most charming creatures in the animal kingdom, and they are expert at coping with the extremes of the Kalahari. The meerkat bands mark their foraging territories; but they are also opportunists — if rival bands don’t post guards, the territory will be raided for food. Unguarded, hapless meerkats may be kidnapped and eaten by their rivals, if the latter are hungry enough.
Lakshmi Mittal claims the charm, but Russians suspect him of less pleasant appetites. Accordingly, the recent record of his forays into Russia has been a consistent series of repulses from the domestic steelmaking and coal mining industries, backed by the federal government and the Kremlin:
This week Mittal announced he is trying to cross the Russian border again, this time with a sale and purchase agreement for two mid-Siberian coalmines, and one exploration deposit. The seller is the steelmaker, Alexei Mordashov, whom Mittal humbled and defeated with a surfeit of cash, and acumen, in mid-2006, when Europe’s largest steelmaker Arcelor was up for grabs, and Mordashov’s merger offer was beaten by Mittal’s. (more…)
Claims for the 5th largest gold reserve in the world.
Sturm und drang was the title of a German play, ostensibly about the American revolution, which captivated German audiences in 1776. The play and its author have been forgotten; but the title has lived on as the name for a European movement expressing extremes of emotion in literature. In the typical sturm und drang novel or poem, then and now, the protagonist is driven to action, not by pursuit of noble means or genuine motives, but by greed or revenge.
According to a Nevada-incorporated junior miner called Golden Share, it holds the rights to mine a gold deposit in the Russian fareast, called Shturmovskoye. The Russian name derives from the German word; it also means storm, assault, attack. There’s nothing fictional about the deposit, located in the Magadan region. It’s not newly discovered either, nor virgin territory. It was first identified almost seventy years ago, and in the years that followed prospecting between 1935 and 1942, diggings at the site produced 194 kilograms of gold (6,237 oz).
Nikolai Goryachev, a Magadan consulting geologist, who has photographs of the site from 2006, isn’t waxing poetical about Shturmovskoye either. That’s because he thinks the drang outweighs the sturm – the deposit is too small and too low-grade to be of interest to anyone. He doesn’t read pinksheets, or investorhub.com. (more…)
Russia’s Evraz group cannot sell its Highveld assets but appears that it might be buying more Russian vanadium.
The Evraz group, Russia’s largest steelmaker, has twice tried to corner the global market in ferroalloys, once in manganese, and once in vanadium.
It has failed at both, obliged by stronger forces than it anticipated to withdraw entirely from the manganese game; and to withdraw for a pause in its vanadium attack.
Since July of 2006, Evraz’s South African acquisition, Highveld Steel & Vanadium, has been a test case of the European Commission’s (EC) will to regulate a Russian metals group in its global market reach. In the hope of changing vanadium’s losing streak, Evraz has been requesting extensions of time from the EC in Brussels, in the hope that the vanadium price will stop sliding, and lift the selling price of the Highveld assets, which the EC ordered sold off a year ago, and which Evraz has so far declined to do.
In addition to stopping the clock to buy more time against the metal price curve, Evraz appears now to have pulled a curtain over a fresh Russian vanadium acquisition, challenging the EC’s will to blow its whistle in the dark. (more…)
Part-2 investigation of the Russian gold assets backing OTC traded gold shares – ABV Gold, Aurus, and Golden Share
Alexei Ivanovich, the hero of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, The Gambler, played roulette – desperately, but more fortunately than Dostoevsky himself. In Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s opera, Queen of Spades, the heroine played the card game faro – fatally. In the time when Boris Yeltsin was Russia’s president, a 19th century form of gambling returned to become a popular obsession across the countryside. The organizers were called napyorstochniki — literally, “thimblers”. For in Russia, the classic shell game has been played, not with walnut shells, but with three thimbles.
The pea is the same. Now you see it to bet on; now you don’t – and you have lost your money. Watch carefully, for in this tale, under the nimble fingers of the napyorstochniki will go a stock of 40 to 80 tonnes of gold, mineable from a tailings pile, and worth from $1.1 billion to $2.3 billion, only to disappear, as if they never were. Then the gold reappears, this time in a remote hard-rock location of northeastern Siberia, now worth almost $4 billion – only to prove unfindable, as soon as the thimbles are upturned. (more…)
Through the Nabucco pipeline project, Bulgaria decides to reap the benefit of Europe’s energy demand.
The fat lady has finally sung — the operatically named Nabucco gas pipeline project, intended to carry Central Asian gas to European markets, avoiding Russia, appears to have been knocked out by an agreement between Bulgaria, Russia, and Italy’s ENI.
Negotiated on Thursday and Friday in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, by President Vladimir Putin and Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, the deal means that “Bulgaria has become a key link in the European energy chain,” Putin announced. Parvanov said: “Bulgaria has always suffered from its strategic location, and the time has comer to reap the South Stream, a new 900-km gas pipeline to be supplied by Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas producer, is to be built under Black Sea, and make land on the Bulgarian coast. From there, the pipeline will fork, delivering gas estimated at 30 billion cubic metres per annum southwards to Italy and Greece, and northwestwards to Hungary, Czech Republic, and Austria.
Austria and Turkey have previously proposed an alternative pipeline, route and feedstock, backed by Washington and Burssels. It is unclear why a gas export pipeline, intended to run from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, across the seabed, and then through several Caucasus and Balkan states, to Vienna, should be named after Nabucco, the Verdi opera of 1842. (more…)
ABV Gold cannot substantiate its market claims to a multi-billion dollar gold and silver property in Russia.
In the folk history of the Russian trades, it was always said that a tailor lacks trousers, and the shoemaker lacks shoes. A Canadian from Montreal, promoting a penny gold mining stock registered on the U.S. Over-the-Counter market (ABVG:US) is writing a new chapter. This is the one about the gold miner without a goldmine.
According to a posting on the ABV Gold website, on September 24, the company “closes acquisition of a 70% interest in a producing gold mine in Russia.” The link from this announcement leads to www.pinksheets.com, where there is no record of the transaction, the value, the price, or the “producing gold mine.”
A few days later, on October 14, Dan Ryan, the President and Chief Executive of ABV Gold, posted an “open letter to shareholders”, responding, he conceded, “to repeated queries about the status of our company, in particular, requests for more data concerning our gold mine holdings in Russia.” (more…)
State-owned maritime fleet leader Sovcomflot is making a last-ditch bid to reap value for its bonus-holders before the Russian presidential election on March 2. But the lack of time isn’t the only catch.
Sovcomflot ‘s bid to buy out minority shareholders of Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship) has been rejected by Moscow investment bankers and brokers as too low. The Sovcomflot offer was issued on January 10, with a $3.34 price tag per voting share. This was initially estimated as a 12% premium on a previous floating average, and was reportedly advised by Sovcomflot advisor, Morgan Stanley. But the premium has already shrunk to 5% on current market valuations.
“We do not recommend that Novoship’s minority shareholders accept Sovcomflot’s offer because the offer price is lower than our fair value,” reports Moscow-based Finam Investment Company. Its advisory to investors said they should retain their shares in the expectation of a much higher market value and share price, if and when a proposed IPO is launched by Sovcomflot. Finam says it values Novoship shares at $3.61 — 8% more than the current offer. (more…)
Russian regulator Oleg Mitvol wins battle for tougher federal mine licensing.
Little children trying to sleep in the bungalows of the British colonial territories in India were once entranced by the tale of Little Black Sambo, whose story was first published by Helen Bannerman in 1899. Pursued by four tigers, Sambo must save himself, which he does by giving up his green parasol, his brand-new red jacket, blue short-pants, and purple curly-toed shoes. Still ravenous, the tigers chase around the tree in which Sambo is perched, until they turn into ghee butter. Sambo then climbs down, and goes home, where he slaps the ghee on to 169 pancakes he devours for his supper.
In the federal regulation of the Russian mining sector, Oleg Mitvol has just proved that he can turn his predatory superior, Sergei Sai, into something edible for supper.
Last week, Sai announced he had resigned his post as chief of Rosprirodnadzor, the licence inspectorate and environment regulator. According to Sai, in remarks reported by a Russian news agency, “We lost control. For example, the head of the [regulator] does not appoint his own deputies. Instead of being able to issue an ordinary reprimand to the head of a regional department, I have to write a letter to the minister to initiate an administrative investigation.” (more…)
Achilles heel uncovered by US court in Russian aluminium champion
In seventy-four closely argued pages, US attorneys have this week applied to the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (New York) to reverse a series of lower court judgements, and order trial of charges that Victor Vekselberg and his associates stole crude oil and Russian oilfield licences worth several hundred million dollars from Norex Petroleum Limited, owned by a Canadian named Alex Rotzang.
If the appeals bench of judges agrees, the outcome directly threatens defendant Vekselberg, the second shareholder of United Company Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminium producers, with US visa and tax sanctions. A ruling for Rotzang by the US court would also trigger UK prohibitions on Vekselberg continuing to serve as a member and chairman of Rusal’s board of directors.
But even before the US court rules, the relatively unnoticed 6-year litigation exposing Vekselberg’s business past, already casts a shadow over the attempts both Vekselberg and his shareholding partner in Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, are making to list their company internationally, either through a London Stock Exchange initial public offering (IPO); or through a takeover and reverse listing with Norilsk Nickel. (more…)
Norway and UK probe Hydro’s aluminium operations with BVI cutout companies.
The High Court in London is considering a trial this year of claims to one of the largest missing aluminium smelter fortunes in the world. The missing money, estimated to be as high as $500 million per year, is disappearing from the Tajikistan Aluminium Plant (TadAZ Talco), whose principal trading partner is Hydro Aluminium, the state-controlled Norwegian aluminium producer.
The details of the UK court litigation, initiated by the smelter and its owner, the Tajik government, are accumulating in confidential records of preliminary and procedural hearings, which continue this month. The trial later in the year will expose the evidence publicly, and it is likely that Hydro will be summonsed to testify, not least of all because of admissions Hydro has publicly made to Mineweb that it has reassigned contracts signed a year ago with the smelter to a Caribbean cutout company with the same name as the smelter, Talco Management Limited (TML). “The arrangements” with the latter, Hydro spokesman Halvor Molland told Mineweb this week, “are an integral part of our settlement agreement with the Talco smelter.” (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.