TAJIK ALUMINIUM COMPANY SETS $120 MILLION RECORD FOR COURT CLAIM

By John Helmer in Moscow

Herbies beats aluminium into profit shares

Herbert Smith, one of the largest billing of the UK law firms, has been forced to reveal this month in the UK High Court that it is charging the Tajikistan government more than $100 million for a 3-year court claim ordered by the Tajik President, Imomali Rakhmonov (Rahmon). Rahmon’s targets are a group of aluminium traders and managers, now based in London, who were ousted from the Tajikistan Aluminium Plant (TadAZ, Talco) after getting too close to the president’s interest in Tajikistan’s principal industry.

The fee numbers and estimates were part of the disclosures that were tabled in a High Court hearing on April 15, 2008, before Mr Justice Tomlinson. Herbert Smith is the law firm acting for the Tajik smelter (Talco), which is wholly owned by the Tajikistan government, and directly supervised by President Rahmon. The estimate of costs from Herbert Smith (aka Herbies in London legal slang) also covers barristers’ fees, which include those of Murray Rosen QC, who is acting for Talco on Herbies’ instructions.

Additional case fee charges of GBP10 million ($20 million) have also been revealed. These are being run up by a British Virgin Islands registered company called CDH, which is a cutout in the complex aluminium trading arrangements devised by Rahmon’s government between Talco and its Norwegian supplier and partner, Hydro Aluminium. CDH is being represented in the High Court by Osborne Clarke.
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NOVOSHIP RESULTS DISAPPOINT MOSCOW MARKET

Maritime flag

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship) disappointed Moscow maritime analysts and the stock market today with FY 2007 financial results, just issued. Reported revenues totaled $615.3 million, 10% above the 2006 figure, but below consensus estimates and projections by transport analysts at Renaissance Capital and Finam. Net profit was reported at $207.9 million, up 37% on 2006. However, adjusting revenues, earnings, and profit for the sale of vessels from the Novoship fleet during the year, the adjusted Ebitda result comes in at $342.7 million, a gain of 8% year on year. Adjusted net profit is $182.7 million, up 8% also.

“The published financials slightly missed our expectations,” reported Finam, “largely due to adverse conditions in the freight market in 4Q 2007. The company’s 9M revenue increased by12% y-o-y, but revenue growth slowed to 9.7% for FY 2007. It is noteworthy that the published results do not paint the full picture of the shipper’s operating results and need to be adjusted for the company’s revenues from the sale of the fleet.” About $53 million was gained by Novoship on its fleet selloff last year.
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DERIPASKA’S DEAL ISN’T THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING

By John Helmer in Moscow

Deripaska is obliged to pay Prokhorov more to leave one uncertainty for a greater one

Oleg Deripaska, owner of United Company Rusal, the global aluminium producer, has invited a small group of reporters to have an Easter luncheon with him at Café Pushkin this Saturday.

The hors d’oeuvre is the announcement, issued this evening, that Rusal has closed its deal with Mikhail Prokhorov to buy his stake in Norilsk Nickel, 25% plus one share, for a 14% stake in Rusal. This is 3% larger than the stake the two had agreed on last December. The change reflects Prokhorov’s concern at the higher risk of holding the unlisted Rusal, with Deripaska in charge.

A press release, just issued by Rusal, did not clarify how much cash Prokhorov will receive in the new deal. The December terms provided him with $4.438 billion on closure, w3ith a deferred payment of $2.7 billion to come on terms that have not been disclosed.
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RUSSIAN COAL – NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T

By John Helmer in Moscow

At current prices, old King Coal is a merry old soul in Russia.

In the bad old days, when Boris Yeltsin was in charge of Russia, all you had to do to acquire a steelmill on the cheap was to cut off its gas, electricity, iron-ore, scrap metal, or its coking coal. Adapting Honore de Balzac’s maxim just a little, behind every Russian steel fortune there is a raw material crime. Not because they had read Balzac, the Russian steelmakers came to understand that in order to protect their easily taken assets, they were obliged to insure and control their raw material supplies, especially iron-ore and coal.

The resulting interlocking shareholding schemes, by which most of Russia’s coal mines are controlled, and deter raiders, are very difficult to unravel. It’s a condition even PriceWaterhouseCoopers might call non-transparency. But that was in an economy recovering from the damage Yeltsin did to it. Today’s Russian GDP is growing at a rate of 7%, and while state policy can probably sustain that relatively comfortably, accelerating inflation rates pose problems that President Vladimir Putin was not threatened by. Official inflation is running at 1.2% per month, but the price of hot-rolled steel is up 25% over the past month; cold-rolled steel, 29%.
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URALKALI LIFTS SPOT POTASH ABOVE GOLD

By John Helmer in Moscow

Uralkali reports spot price for potash goes above $1,000 a tonne as shortages bite.

Uralkali and its global sales agent, Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), revealed this morning that spot-price cargoes of potash will fetch more than $1,000 per tonne of standard grade, including freight and insurance (CIF). Higher grade granular potash will go up to $1,010. The new price will take effect for shipments commencing on July 1.

The announcement has come sooner than Uralkali executives had been forecasting, or industry analysts predicting. The price charge follows on from BPC’s recent negotiations with India and China, which fixed new contract delivery prices at $625 and $650, respectively. A fortnight ago, BPC’s deputy general director, Oleg Petrov, said the $1,000 price threshold was approaching “rather fast”.
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ARCELORMITTAL TRIES NEW APPROACH TO BREAK INTO RUSSIAN STEEL

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian boom creates beauty contest for European steel investors.

The rapid acceleration in iron-ore and coal costs can be camouflaged on the books of a vertically integrated steelmaker, who supplies his own raw materials to his own blast furnaces. But mineral cost inflation has begun to hurt, even in integrated steel industries fired by 7% annual GDP growth — that is to say, even in the Russian boom, the only one open in the developed economic world.

But the Russian boom isn’t open to foreign steelmakers.

To illustrate how the door can be shut against their expectation, Mineweb has been chronicling the pit and pratfalls of Lakshmi Mittal, whose ArcelorMittal, world’s biggest steelmaker, has stumbled from one promised Russian opportunity to the next, egged on by provincial governors, and Moscow touts. At last count, the Mittal group has closed its acquisition for $720 million of central Siberian coalfields; and it continues to pursue a scrap-fired mini-mill project in the Tver region, near Moscow.
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CHINA CAUGHT IN POTASH CRUNCH

By John Helmer in Moscow

MOSCOW – The magnitude and growth rate of demand from China still drives global commodity prices. But in the fertilizer sector, where China this month has had to agree to a price for potash more than double what it paid last year, the inflexibility of Chinese demand for food has made it difficult for the country’s negotiators to hang on to the commercial advantages they are accustomed to enjoying from being the world’s largest consumer.

Last year, Chinese buyers of potash lost their traditional discount; that is, the lower price Chinese importers would pay compared with other buyers in the Asian, Latin American, and European markets on account of the larger volumes they contract for recently, the Chinese agreed to pay a premium for their supplies, and they will receive less than they had bargained for.

Chinese buyers also face the shortening of contract terms, canceling their last commercial advantage in the potash market – annual contracts, with prices fixed from one springtime contract agreement to the next.
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GAZPROM AND QADDAFI ARE ON A WINNING STREAM

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian energy giant makes gains in Africa and Europe

The days when American journalists wandered around Tripoli, acting as covert target spotters for the US Air Force to target Muammar Qaddafi for assassination, are gone. The maverick Berber has outlived, outwitted, outsourced, and outprofited five US presidents, four Russian heads of state.

He has also just cut a 50% discount out of the Soviet-era debt he ran up for the arms that warded off a land invasion in the 1980s. For the first time, Qaddafi’s long-held dream to place Libya, and himself, at the energy supply crossroads between Africa, the Mediterranean, and Europe has a better than 50% chance of materializing. Qaddafi has also cocked a snook at the pro-American rivals he has always detested in neighbouring Algeria. And all because of President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom.

The state visit to Tripoli by the Russian president this week, accompanied by Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller, has produced less print than the deals they have consummated would warrant. Resolution of the Soviet debt dispute with Libya is a clever piece of bargaining on both sides. Russian Finance Ministry officials have been reluctant for years to put a figure on exactly how money Libya owed for Soviet arms since US President Ronald Reagan launched his campaign to kill Qaddafi and change regimes in Tripoli. Not even then deputy finance minister Mikhail — Misha Two-Percent — Kasyanov could strike a deal with the Libyans on a number for settling. At one point, estimates ran as high as $10 billion.
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ARCHANGEL DIAMOND DEAL FACES KREMLIN EQUITY REVIEW BEFORE CLOSING

By John Helmer in Moscow

New Russian diamond mine is bigger and better.

Blind Man’s Buff is a game which, in King Henry the Eighth’s time, was played by men at court to grope for ladies.These days it entertains children to hide from the blindfolded one, who plays “it”, and must catchwhoever he can, until no-one is left in the game.

It isn’t customary for respectable stock exchanges to play games with blindfolded shareholders. Nor is it lawful for the management and proprietors of listed companies to treat their minorities as “it”.

As details emerge of the deal that was signed early this week for the world’s largest new diamond mine — the Verkhotina project in northwestern Russia — the terms of the transaction warn of two possible disputes over the equity in the asset. One is whether the Kremlin will agree to the shareholding split, allowing De Beers a 49.99% stake in the project, through its affiliate Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC); and LUKoil, a 50.01% stake, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Arkhangelskgeoldobycha (AGD).
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MORDASHOV RESHUFFLES MANAGEMENT SEATS AT SEVERSTAL

By John Helmer in Moscow

Poor performance and uncertain prospects dog Russian steel and mining magnate Mordashov and management reshuffle not seen as improving the situation.

Severstal, Russia’s third ranked steelmaker, is far from the Titanic, but seat-changing at the steel and mining group has failed to convince steel industry observers and the Moscow stock market that the downward trend of its stock price can be reversed.

So far this month Severstal’s share price has lost almost 7%, the worst performer among its Russian peers. On Monday, it lost 0.4%, following a company reorganization announcement. The share price continued downward on Tuesday, then flattened in midweek trading.

The company announcement claimed that a “new structure, taking effect in April, will reduce the number of reporting lines between individual operations and senior management, ensuring greater operating efficiency and capitalizing on Severstal’s international diversity by providing for the continued growth of the global business.”
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RUSSIAN RAIDERS BURY HATCHET WITH DE BEERS OVER ARCHANGEL DIAMOND – BUT WHO WILL WIELD THE SHOVEL?

By John Helmer in Moscow

LUKoil ends raid against Archangel Diamond’s Russian project, opening up new mine possibility.

Grib is Russian for mushroom, and this isn’t the season for harvesting them. Grib is also the name of a diamond pipe, first discovered in northwestern Russia in 1996 — and the target of a Russian raid ever since.Until yesterday, that is.

According to an overnight announcement from De Beers in London, Nicky Oppenheimer has signed an agreement with Vagit Alekperov, chief executive and controlling shareholder of LUKoil, to end a decade of dispute and litigation over the fate of the Grib pipe, at the Verkhotina prospect, in Arkhangelsk region, in Russia’s northwest.

The signing was blessed at a brief meeting which Oppenheimer and Alekperov had with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Moscow. LUKoil confirmed the meeting with Putin, but the Kremlin is saying nothing. How little or how much Putin meant, by way of endorsement of the proposed new diamond mine remains to be seen.

Oppenheimer told Alekperov at yesterday’s ceremonies that De Beers has bought assets in Russia in the past, but has no experience of developing and operating a mine in Russia. He and Alekperov appear to agree that, for the time being, neither has decided how the Grib pipe will be mined, and with whom.
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MINING POTASH HAS NEVER BEEN SO GOOD

By John Helmer in Moscow

Potash prices are soaring and the major beneficiary is LSE quoted Uralkali, Russia’s largest producer.

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. That is what the Dutch used to say, while watching their tulips grow.

But for the world’s potash miners, meeting this month in Canada, a bushel of grain is another kettle of fish. Referring to the April 3 record of $6 fixed for a bushel of corn on the Chicago Board of Trade’s May contracts, a leading Canadian potash miner said this was a “beautiful chocolate sundae”. The increasing pressure on the corn price of North American ethanol demand, he added, is the “cherry”on the cake.

The mixed metaphors make the point. The global feast of foodstuffs is driving potash demand far faster than the miners can produce it. The result is that the benchmark commodity price being set by Uralkali and its trader, Belarusian Potash Corporation (BPC), the swing producer in the world, is driving up the share prices of the mining companies, which deliver the fertilizer to the market.
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RUSSIA’S BIGGEST COPPER CONTEST IS DECIDED ON CLOUT

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s big copper contest goes on the boil

Russia’s biggest copper contest is going to be a very private affair. Even if there are just two, possibly three contenders, all Russian household names, predicting who will win over the next 90 days of the contest may prove to be more frustrating than it looks.

Forecasting the award of rich state assets like these, over the transition period between the two Russian presidents, should be a reminder of the ancient Harpies. Zeus, the Greek god, was so jealous of Phineas, the man who knew too much, he sent him to an island, sat him down at a dinner-table, and loaded it with food, which the Harpies would fly in to steal, before Phineas had a chance to eat. The Harpies – three winged creatures, with feminine bodices and monster trunks – left their guano behind to make Phineas feel even worse about his appetite.

Udokan, located in the southeastern Siberian region of Chita, near the Chinese border, isn’t made of guano. The largest unmined deposit of copper in Russia, and one of the largest in the world, Russian studies indicated a year ago that its mineable ore reserves break down into sulfides 43%, mixed 40%, and oxides 17%. Official reserves, according to the Russian classification, amount to 1,310.8 million tonnes of ore, 19.7 million tonnes of copper (average grade 1.51%) and 11,900 tonnes of silver (average grade 9.6 g/t). International studies, which include BHP and Bateman, estimate Udokan reserves at 27 million tonnes of copper. At current copper prices, this is a feast worth more than $170 billion, plus another $7 billion for the silver.
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POTANIN TAKES THE INITIATIVE IN NORILSK NICKEL BATTLE

Norilsk Nickel shareholders ask where the cash for the new deal will come from

Oleg Deripaska and his United Company Rusal were trounced in their bid to elect three directors on the Norilsk Nickel board today. The vote saw Vladimir Potanin’s Interros holding, plus most of the free float of 40%, put a full-stop to Rusal’s six-month ambition to take control of Russia’s largest mining company, and become the largest mining and metals conglomerate in the country.

A brief announcement from Norilsk Nickel said that at voting early in the afternoon, an emergency general meeting of shareholders voted against early termination of the current board of directors, and against new elections. Prokhorov had called the meeting with the proposal to replace his men on the board, with those of Rusal, to whom he was planning to sell his Norilsk Nickel stake. Unofficial reports of the EGM voting indicate that Prokhorov voted his shares (34.5%) in favour of this proposal, but they were outvoted by the opposition (64%). Notwithstanding the way he voted, Prokhorov has changed his mind on the Rusal takeover, and he now argues that Rusal cannot meet its buyout and payment terms.
The outcome is the status quo ante, and so the 9-man board remains. Norilsk Nickel chief executive Denis Morozov sought to portray the result as a vote in favour of “professionalism and outstanding service of the acting Board of Directors… I would like to thank our minority shareholders for their support and active participation in voting in such crucial time for Norilsk.”
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RUSAL MAKES CONCESSIONS TO STRIKING BAUXITE MINERS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian miners’ union confident of gaining strike demands as Rusal postpones legal action.

Striking bauxite miners at the Rusal-owned Severuralsk mine, in central Russia, have called off their occupation of one of the mine shafts, on signs that Rusal is ready to make wage, welfare, and other labour contract concessions.

A spokesman for the striking miners, Oksana Sgibneva, told Mineweb that a court hearing, convened last Friday on Rusal’s move to call in police and marshals, was postponed until April 8. “Everything now depends,” she said, “on the condition of the case.”

Severuralsk (“North Ural Bauxite Mining Company”, Russian acronym SUBR ) operates five shafts, and all have been shut down since the day after miners at the Red Riding Hood mine refused to come to the surface, when their shift had ended on March 26. The miners then circulated a list of 11 demands. Rusal warned that the strike was illegal, and promised court action to put an end to the occupation.
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POLYUS GOLD HOLDS A BIRTHDAY BASH

By John Helmer in Moscow

Polyus shareholders give Potanin big win over rival plan to transfer assets.

In Harold Pinter’s play, The Birthday Party, a group of seedy characters in a rundown boarding house, at a miserable English seaside town, arrange a birthday celebration for one of their number. But he denies it’s his birthday, and in the drunken uproar, he tries to strangle one of the women, and rape another. On the morning after, two other characters end the play bv telling the birthday boy that they are going to take him away. In sing-song alternation, they say: “We’ll watch over you. Advise you. Give you proper care and treatment. Let you use the club bar. Keep a table reserved. Help you kneel on kneeling days. Give you a free pass. Take you for constitutionals. Give you hot tips.” Some of Pinter’s interpreters believe this to symbolize the impact of the all-powerful state on the hapless individual.

Russian billionaires tend not to be hapless. But they do crave proper care and treatment, not to mention free passes and hot tips.
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ALROSA RENEWS BID FOR AFRICANMINE CONCESSIONS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Underground mine costs are pushing Alrosa towards diamond prospects in southwestern Africa

Back in the good old friendly days,one thing was always understood by the senior executives and mine engineers of De Beers and Alrosa, the world’s diamond mining leaders. Alrosa faced serious risks and incalculable costs in trying to mine underground, as its open-pit operations at Mirny and Udachny reached exhaustion.

From the De Beers point of view at the time, that meant that Alrosa’s annual production of rough diamonds was facing inevitable decline — and with that, its global market challenge to De Beers itself.

Alrosa’s annual report for 2006 showed what was happening. Udachny, supplying 35% of Alrosa’s total carat output, had suffered a 13% decline over the prior two years (measured in dollar value, because carat data are not released). Offsetting the decline at the Udachny open-pit operation, the new Nyurba mine grew 29% in value, while Mirny,where underground mining had started, gained 28%. Gain overall, however, was less than 8%, and rising dollar prices for diamonds in the period masked the trouble carat volumes were facing.

Sincedecline remained an unpleasant prospect, Alrosa’s planners and prospectors argued, it stood to reason that it might be cheaper for the company to try to find new diamond pipes in Russia — starting, naturally, in Alrosa’s backyard, Yakutia (Sakha), and in Arkhangelsk, on the western side of Russia.
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RUSSIAN BAUXITE MINERS STRIKE AGAINST RUSAL

By John Helmer in Moscow

An unprecedented strike by Russian bauxite miners halts Rusal production in Urals

Richard the Lionheart (1157-99) was the greatest of English soldiers; the greatest artilleryman of all time. In laying siege to an enemy’s position, Richard applied the principle of concentrating force at the point of least resistance – bombarding a castle wall at its weakest point, at the same time as sappers dug under the foundation to bring the structure down.

The Independent Miners’ Union of Russia hasn’t read the playbook of Richard’s sieges. They are professional, however, when it comes to undermining a fortified position. Their down-tools strikes at coal pits and rail blockades in 1995 compelled then President Boris Yeltsin to make concessions to wage demands, which no other Russian workforce has been able to achieve since the end of Communist power. The independently unionized bauxite miners have now emerged to wage a week-old strike against Oleg Deripaska’s United Company Rusal in the Urals mining town of Severuralsk, in central Russia.

This is the first organized claim by miners against a Russian metals oligarch for a share in the wealth he has been accumulating in the current commodity boom. It is also the first break by an independent miners’ union to overwhelm resistance from the company-favoured union.
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



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.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



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.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

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.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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