After a series of battles with Newmont, Indonesian officials and NGOs keep up the anti-mine fight, this time targeting the Toka Tindung gold project.

Author: John Helmer
Posted: Monday , 31 Mar 2008


The boomerang is an Australian aboriginal word for a throwing stick; but the weapon itself isn’t indigenous to Australia. Its killer edge and return trajectory have been exploited on most shores of the Indian Ocean from East Africa to India and Australia.

On Indonesian islands like Sulawesi, game and trouble abound, but the rain forest is too thick for the boomerang to be a practical weapon. Single and double-edged knives and spears are the preferred type of throwing stick. When it comes to catching the underwater Hairy Octopus, the boomerang is useless.

The Hairy Octopus is one of dozens of creatures, which live on the sea bottom of the Lembeh Strait, at the northeastern tip of the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi. The seafloor is unique for “muck divers” from around the world. Their name distinguishes them from coral-reef divers.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian multi-mineral fertilizer group calls for investor upgrade ahead of IPO.

Traced on the map, Verkhnekamskoye (“Upper Kama”) looks like a molar tooth, with an unusually deep root. On the ground, in the Perm region of central Russia, it is the second largest deposit of potash known in the world.

About 3.8 billion tonnes of potash ore are estimated to lie at relatively shallow depth of less than 400 metres. Verkhnekamskoye is thus not only the largest undeveloped source of potash in the world; but it is also potentially the cheapest to mine, and bring to market.

Digging into this deposit is an opportunity that third-ranked listed Russian producer Acron acquired at a state auction on March 12, bidding Rb16.8 billion ($704 million). Crossing the Verkhnekamskoye threshold marks Acron’s biggest market move ahead of it’s plans for international public placement later this year.

It also marks a milestone in Acron’s five-year strategy to become vertically integrated upstream for raw materials, and to establish the independence of its complex fertilizer business of rival phosphate and potash mining companies. In October 2006, Acron bought licences for two apatite-nepheline deposits in the Murmansk region of northwestern Russia. In five years’ time, and with an investment of about $300 million, Acron’s North-Western Phosphorus Company (NWPC) is expected to produce 1 million tonnes of phosphates; and another 1 million tonnes of nepheline (for processing into alumina).


By John Helmer in Moscow

Deripaska and Prokhorov holding companies trade claims over Norilsk Nickel deal contract.

Onexim, the Moscow holding unit for Mikhail Prokhorov, has broken its silence on the troubled sale of a 25% stake in Norilsk Nickel — in a manner of speaking.

Terms for the deal between Prokhorov and Oleg Deripaska, controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal, were first negotiated last August and September; the deal was announced in November. If fully consummated, it represents the largest corporate takeover in Russian history, and the most expensive hostile bid on the Russian record.

Mineweb reported yesterday on evidence of the apparent breakdown in the six-month old bid by Deripaska to take control of Norilsk Nickel from Vladimir Potanin and the Interros group, formerly Prokhorov’s partner:


By John Helmer in Moscow

When T.S. Eliot was summing up what he knew of hollow men, he concluded: “this is the way the world ends/not with a bang but a whimper”. This is also the way Russia’s biggest-ever hostile takeover, Oleg Deripaska’s bid to take control of Norilsk Nickel, is ending.

The contract deadline for deal closing, according to insiders, is next Monday, March 31.

It won’t be clear until then whether it’s Deripaska, or Norilsk Nickel seller, Mikhail Prokhorov, who is doing more of the whimpering. If Deripaska fails to deliver on the terms of their agreement – an 11% shareholding in United Company Rusal, $4.438 billion in cash, and $2.7 billion in deferred cash – then Prokhorov will get to keep his 25% plus one share in Norilsk Nickel. Also, he will not be obligated to pay Deripaska the $300 million break-fee the two had agreed on, if Prokhorov developed cold feet.

Mineweb reported the transaction details last December:


By John Helmer in Moscow

The wind-chill factor this winter in Tajikistan has produced record low temperatures and uncounted miseries for a population struggling with inadequate electricity supply and failing heat. Tajik newborns have been reported as having died from hypothermia while in hospital wards.

But on March 5, a single whistle-blow from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sent a chill through the one well-heated residence in the country. That’s the presidential palace of Emomali Rakhmonov (aka Rahmon), the head of the land-locked Central Asian country since 1992.

For the IMF revealed publicly for the first time, and at the level of the fund’s board of directors, that the National Bank of Tajikistan (NBT) and the Finance Ministry in Dushanbe have been fiddling the country’s accounts for several years, falsifying the flow of funds and concealing the disappearance of as yet uncounted millions of dollars of international loan funds.

On March 5, the “Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met today to review a report from the Managing Director on noncomplying disbursements to the Republic of Tajikistan and a breach of obligations under Article VIII, Section 5 of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement”.


By John Helmer in Moscow

PR spin battles US recession to hype Russian steel deal

Taylor Rafferty is an international public relations company which works for Alexei Mordashov, the controlling shareholder of Severstal, third ranked Russian steelmaker. Its job is to help Mordashov extricate his foot from his mouth, and his hand from public shareholder pockets.

Mordashov can be a nervous fellow, if he thinks the Kremlin disapproves of what he is doing. In 2006, when Mordashov applied to President Vladimir Putin for permission to buy other Russian steel companies, he was told no. But he was told he would be allowed to stretch his own neck in Europe. This meant Kremlin approval of Mordashov’s attempt in mid-2006 to take over Arcelor, the leading European steelmaker at the time. Mordashov’s bid failed when it was beaten by Lakshmi Mittal, who mobilized more effective investment banking by Goldman Sachs, more cash, and better PR.

Mordashov learned the PR lesson. The market hasn’t. According to Taylor Rafferty’s mission statement, it promises clients “a reality check and sharp focus to the investor relations program”.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Polyus public shareholders in the dark about proposed new gold mine asset sale

Sixty years elapsed between the first US patents issued for the yo-yo, and 1928, when the wooden axle on a string became a fad in California, and then spread across the US. By 1965, the yo-yo was so common, manufacturers couldn’t preserve their trademarks, even while they promoted competitions to popularize demand for the toy.

In yo-yo competitions, a standard routine is called sleeping. That’s when the axle is made to spin without rising up the player’s string. Another is called walking the dog. That’s when the axle is made to spin along the ground, also without rising up or down the string.

In innovative Russian business, as Mikhail Prokhorov has been practicing it, the trick is to keep assets in motion, earning their proprietor cash as they spin. It can be difficult to know what trick Prokhorov intends to pull at the end of his string. Two years ago, when he bought gold mines and prospects to add to the Polyus portfolio, the rationale was obvious – and so was the payoff, if only to count Prokhorov’s 25.5% stake in Polyus’s growing capitalization. (Market reports indicate that Prokhorov may hold as much as 28% of Polyus’s stock.)


By John Helmer in Moscow

Uralkali keeps the initiative as potash breaks $600.

A series of Russian government decisions this month, awarding new mining licences at a premium valuation; imposing export duties; and regulating the domestic price of fertilizers for the next five years has triggered fresh forecasts for the direction of Russian potash producers, now the price-setter for the global commodity trade.

The biggest test of the clout of the potash miners began a week ago, on March 12, when the federal mine licensing agency Rosnedra conducted an auction of licences in the Urals region for the mining of new potash reserves. One week later, and the first impression of decisiveness on the government’s part has begun to dissolve, with a fightback orchestrated by the leading producer and exporter, Uralkali.

The official announcement of the March 12 auction said that three licenses to mine potash reserves at the Verkhnekamskoye deposit, in Perm region, had been sold for a total of $2.35 billion. Global reserves of potash are concentrated in Russia, Belarus, and Canada, but all the Canadian deposits have been allocated long since. The Verkhnekamskoye field is one of the largest unmined sources of potash in the world, and the largest ever to be auctioned internationally. When and if mines open in about a decade, the field represents an estimated increase to global potash supplies of 9 to 10 million tonnes per annum. This is roughly equal to the total volume produced in 2007 by Russia’s lead producers, Uralkali and Silvinit combined


IMF joins UK High Court in corruption investigations of Tajik aluminium dealing.

“Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York”.

That’s the opening of the most vicious dynastic bloodbath on the English stage, spoken by the nastiest of Shakespeare’s royal villains — the hump-back plotter who becomes Richard III, for a short while.

Landlocked in the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, the ruler of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov (aka Rahmon), has been desperately hoping for the sun to relieve the very worst winter in recent history for his country — the poorest of the former Soviet states. Instead, he has run into three international fireballs that have fuelled charges circulating in and outside Tajikistan, that its miseries stem, not from the weather, but from the disappearance of the country’s earnings to a tropical haven in the Caribbean.

Directly substantiating the latter, for the first time, is documentary evidence presented in the UK High Court on February 15, before Justice Tomlinson.

But worse was to come for Rahmon. On March 5, in an unprecedented default announcement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) disclosed that the Fund board had discovered systematic financial misreporting by the National Bank of Tajikistan, and “noncomplying disbursements”. The IMF said it was ordering an immediate “special audit” of the state bank, and calling in a repayment of $47 million.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia has been locked out of the largest nuclear power contract ever prepared in Africa, despite two years of promises from the South African government that it would invite Russia’s nuclear industry to join a competitive tender with the French and American companies, Areva and Westinghouse.

The lockoutappears to be regional in scope, blocking a bid by the Russians to build a nuclear reactor in Namibia, that country’s first. It also makes unlikely that ambitious schemes to draw Russian investment into uranium mining, ore concentration, and uranium fuel enrichment will materialize in southern Africa.

According to the SA utility Eskom, the first SA reactor to be commissioned would cost an estimated R120 billion ($15 billion); six power stations to produce an estimated 20,000MW would cost more than R720 billion ($90 billion), Eskom officials have publicly estimated.

The circumstances in which SA officials made their decision to exclude the Russians have been kept secret for weeks, while crisis talks were held by officials of the two governments, first in Moscow on February 12, and then in Pretoria on March 10.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Icebreaking is the key to the expansion of energy and mineral shipments in the Arctic.

It is a little early for Russia to begin producing bananas and other soft, sun-dependent commodities. But depending on which global warming forecast you read, there may come a time when it will be cost-efficient to do so, earning the increment in export value of commodities, whose price is moving faster than the oil and gas-fired energy and fertilizers required for them to grow.

And since Russian energy leads the world in volume and value of export trade and reserves, it stands to reason that one Russian strategy for diversification downstream into energy-intensive products, and up the value chain, would be a form of agro-industry that is indifferent to Arctic cold.

Gazprom strategists are already contemplating one set of targets for this strategy. These are to acquire control of major nitrogenous and diversified fertilizers, and the intermediate ammonia producers providing feedstock for urea and nitrate fertilizer manufacture. An immediate target is the EuroChem group of Moscow, currently owned by Andrei Melnichenko, a metals and banking oligarch, who has offered to sell his 96% stake in the company; but who, according to Gazprom, is asking too high a price.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Norilsk/BHP Billiton “alliance for development of huge Russian nickel deposit raises some questions.

Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s leading mining company, has announced that it has won a regional auction for exploration and mining rights to Russia’s largest undeveloped nickel prospect. The Iisko-Tagulsk deposit, located in the Irkutsk region of southeastern Siberia, was won at an open-auction tender for $30.7million. Exploration and other preliminary prospecting and feasibility work is estimated to cost another Rb2.5 billion ($100 million).

While this task and the amount are clearly within Norilsk Nickel’s financial and technical capacity to manage, the company announcement, issued Thursday, said it has invited BHP Billiton to join in the first phase of the project. The language used was: “the geological [work] will be done in alliance with BHP Billiton.”

This carefully skirts legislative amendments now proceeding through the State Duma, backed by Norilsk Nickel, which would exclude foreign mining companies from the Russian nickel sector entirely. As Mineweb reported early in the week, the list of strategic minerals on the foreign exclusion list are diamonds, uranium, quartz, cobalt, nickel, beryllium, lithium, the platinum group metals (PGM), tantalum, and niobium.

Alrosa, the state owned Russian diamond miner now diversifying into gold and other minerals, was the second, and losing bidder in the Irkutsk auction.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s new parliament reopens debate on proposed limits on foreign mining.

A new round of debate on proposals to regulate access by foreign mining companies to the Russian resource sector has begun, this time with a set of legislative amendments that were submitted to the newly elected State Duma last week. But there is a catch.

This time, the origin of the amendments leaked to the press is not the federal Ministry of Natural Resources, the agency in charge of drafting the amending measures, and implementing the current mining law. The leaks have also been delivered to the press from a committee of the Duma which has played no role in mining regulation before. These are signs of an intense lobbying effort, most likely to undermine the conditions which have been disclosed, and force fresh changes. According to Russian mining sources, the power behind this lobbying is the oil and gas sector. A high-ranking mining administrator told Mineweb that what is happening now is “a mess”.

The threshold reserve levels, at which foreign mining companies are excluded from operating or equity control, appear to remain the same as Mineweb reported last October:

These have been fixed for four resources — oil, gas, gold, and copper.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Nesis considers chrome sell-out in the most lucrative, short mining career on record

A press leak in Moscow on Monday, followed by a confirming announcement from Mechel, the Russian stainless steel producer, have indicated that Igor Zyuzin, Mechel’s controlling shareholder, is trying to buy out chrome producer Oriel Resources, owned by Alexander Nesis and the ICT group of St. Petersburg.

Mechel’s corporate office was initially reluctant to confirm the reported talks, and the company’s press release said only that Mechel “is currently contemplating the acquisition of Oriel. This process is at an early stage and there can be no certainty that any offer will ultimately be forthcoming.”

The target of takeover is an integrated ferrochrome producer based in the Leningrad region, the Tikhvin ferroalloy plant, with its own raw supply from two mines in Kazakhstan — a chrome mine called Voskhod, and a nickel mine called Shevchenko. Nesis’s ICT group have been involved in the chrome project for several years, when Nesis owned Polymetal, a St.Petersburg based silver miner. In 2006 Nesis sold Polymetal for $930 million in cash to Suleiman Kerimov, and began investing some of the proceeds in the chrome project.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Potanin’s cash and shares deal puts Deripaska in the hole.

Just two things are remembered about King Canute, a Viking who invaded England in 1013. One is that he had a large hooked nose. The other is that he tried to command the sea tide not to roll into shore. The second has made Canute’s name synonymous with the folly of being on the losing side, when you don’t have to be.

In the fierce war for Norilsk Nickel, the most expensive fight over a Russian mining asset ever fought, it is becoming as clear as arithmetic, and the sea tide, what the outcome will be. A recent report in a Russian newspaper, claiming that a member of the Norilsk Nickel board, Ralph Tavakolian Morgan, believes the company cannot afford to buy back a bloc of its shares is therefore interpreted as either a misquote, or Morgan’s miscalculation.

The buy-back scheme is part of chief shareholder Vladimir Potanin’s defence against a hostile takeover by Rusal and its owner, Oleg Deripaska. He and Potanin’s disgruntled former partner Mikhail Prokhorov began their assault on the company, after Prokhorov sold 25% plus 1 share in Norilsk Nickel to Deripaska in December. Mineweb has reported on the reaction to that deal, and Potanin’s new arrangement with the Kremlin, after Potanin met President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on February 5:


By John Helmer in Moscow

Drilling into SA diplomatic communiqués comes up empty for manganese and platinum

An unusual meeting of South African (SA) and Russian government ministers two weeks ago in Moscow has triggered recriminations in Pretoria and Moscow. These follow the refusal of SA officials to clarify an upbeat description of co-operation in mining projects, which Russian sources deny.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, SA’s Foreign Minister, who headed the delegation to Moscow on February 12-13, claimed there has been commercial progress in the Russian-SA relationship. The evidence for that, according to an official communiqué issued in Pretoria on February 13, is the activity of a single, well-known Russian oligarch, Victor Vekselberg, who owns the Renova group. Dlamini-Zuma said in the communiqué she personally “welcomed progress with regard to Joint Venture Manganese Project by the Renova Group and South African company Pitsa ya Setshaba and wished the company well in the second phase of the project. ”

Renova refuses to provide details of its investment and exploration spending in South Africa, since the award of licences to Heuningdraii and Mooidraai in the Kalahari Manganese Field (KMF) in 2005.


By John Helmer in Moscow

RUSSIAN government officials have revealed that relations with SA are in crisis, after cancellation by Pretoria of the two largest commercial agreements ever negotiated between the countries.

The crisis directly affects SA government plans for nuclear energy to increase Eskom’s power supply, and for SA military and civilian satellite communications.

The breakdown in relations triggered an urgent mission to Moscow two weeks ago by Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. But her failure to repair the damage has led to recriminations in Pretoria, and an order to South African ambassador Bheki Langa and other South African officials to cover up what has happened.

A multibillion-rand contract to build nuclear reactors for Eskom — one of the largest government contracts contemplated by SA — was to have been open for bidding by the Russian reactor builder, Atomstroyexport (ASE), according to agreements reached during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to SA in 2006, and reiterated by officials of the two governments in the middle of last year .

Eskom said the licensing process for the five nuclear power stations, which would produce up to 20000MW of electricity, would start this year.


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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