RUSSIA’S ARMZ HAS NEW URANIUM REACH

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian state uranium miner now no.2 in control of world uranium resources.

The structure for managing and -run capitalizing the mining of uranium in Russia, and Russian uranium mining ventures abroad, is now clear. And also large, as Russia has recently moved into the number-3 spot in the world ranking of uranium reserves — number-2 if Russia’s equity stake in Kazakhstan reserves is counted.

After a confusing spell, in which it was preceded for a year by the Uranium Mining Company (UMC), Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) has been authorized to take equity and operational control of Russia’s three operating uranium mines; five planned new mines; and joint ventures in Kazakhstan, Namibia, and Canada.

Atomredmetzoloto — literally, “atomic, rare metal and gold” — is a venerable name from the Soviet era of the nuclear industry administration, when it was an enterprise of the atomic energy ministry. In those days, it not only supervised uranium mining, but also gold at the well-known Muruntau deposit in Uzbekistan.
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DERIPASKA’S BID FOR NORILSK NICKEL IS OVER

By John Helmer in Moscow

Oleg Deripaska’s bid to take control of Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s premier mining company, came to an end on Monday at a meetingin Moscow. The meeting, to which Norilsk Nickel controlling shareholder Vladimir Potanin was also summoned, concluded with an unambiguous veto on Deripaska’s ambition to buy a controlling stake in Norilsk Nickel, and make a reverse listing of Rusal through the takeover.

At Deripaska’s Basic Element holding, Deripaska’s spokesman Sergei Bobichenko wasasked if Deripaska had met Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. He responded that he can neither confirm nor deny the information. Sources close to Potanin also declined to confirm or deny the meeting and its outcome. Sechin’s spokesman refused to say, and referred the question to the prime minister’s press service. An official there said he did not know, and requested the question to be submitted in writing.

Sechin is formally in charge of Russian policy for industry and oil. He is acknowledged to be the most important policymaker under Putin on the award of the country’s natural resource concessions.
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MECHEL FACES BREAKUP — RUSAL FACES TAX PROBLEMS

By John Helmer in Moscow

In Robert Louis Stephenson’s version of the way English pirates used to issue shareholder summonses for asset distributions, the Black Spot was a ink-blot, spilled on the page of a bible, and delivered by a blind-man. You could hide from the delivery, but not from the consequences.

A second attack on the Mechel group by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday evening has increased the market perception that Igor Zyuzin, the controlling shareholder of the specialty steel and mining group, is facing a government-assisted breakup of his assets.

He may be alone in a cardiological clinic at the moment. But Mechel isn’t alone, as mid-level government officials have now been emboldened to press a campaign in favour of increasing their tax-take from ferrous and nonferrous metal exporters; and against tax optimization schemes used by the Russian non-ferrous metal exporters, such as the tolling used by United Company Rusal.
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FEAR OF NATIONALIZATION SPOOKS RUSSIAN MARKET

By John Helmer in Moscow

The collapse of Mechel’s share price (MTL:US), following a direct attack by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the company and its owner, Igor Zyuzin, for its coking coal price tactics, has generated a market-wide apprehension that strong, and stronger, measures are in store for mill profits and their proprietors’ health.

On Friday, the Russian index fell 5.6% on the day, but some steelmakers dropped further. According to the London Stock Exchange trading data, Novolipetsk fell 7.2%; Severstal, 6.7%; Evraz, 5.5%; and Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine, 4.4%.

As Moscow trading ended on Friday, and US trading opened, Mechel issued its first official statement; this followed a day of no comment from spokesman, Ilya Zhitomirsky. The statement said: “Mechel shares the concerns of the Government of the Russian Federation, steel plants and metallurgical industry in regard to the growth in prices for steel products and raw materials in the recent time. As was previously announced, Mechel has started the process of forming long-term commercial relationships with key partners and has signed a number of agreements for delivery of its products to the end of this year. Mechel is ready for cooperation with federal authorities of the Russian Federation and, if required, will provide complete information on any arising issues.”
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RUSSIAN STEEL AND COAL PROPRIETORS UNDER THE KNOUT

By John Helmer in Moscow

Mechel metal & mining group threatened by price-rigging charge.

There is an old Russian expression that the only way to run anything is “sknutom i pryanikom” — with the club or the cake.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was therefore doing what comes traditionally when, yesterday in a provincial river town, at a policy session on steelmaking, he berated the Mechel group (ticker MTL:US) — Russia’s fifth largest steelmaker and largest coking coal miner — and its owner, Igor Zyuzin.

Zyuzin’s steel business benefits from two vital forms of government protection — penalty duties on imports of European stainless steel, and an export tax on steel scrap; the former removes price competition from the European product entering the Russian market; the latter helps lower export demand and enables domestic mills to buy scrap for their furnaces at a lower price. Mechel’s coal reserves — on which the company’s market capitalization depends — benefited last year when the Kremlin ruled that major foreign bidders, such as ArcelorMittal, should be excluded from the state auction of Sakha region coal assets.

On Thursday morning, Mechel’s market cap was $17 billion; by evening it was $9.5 billion. This is the one of the largest one-day crashes in privately held Russian corporate value since Putin launched the state campaign against the Yukos oil company, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in the autumn of 2003.
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ALROSA FINANCIAL REPORT REVEALS SURPRISES

By John Helmer in Moscow

On most indicators the first full financial report issued since Sergei Vybornov took command of Alrosa in February 2007 indicates modest retreat.

Sales totalled Rb90.7 billion; converted to US dollars at the December 31, 2007, rate, this is equivalent to $3.7 billion. The result marks a 4% decline in Alrosa revenues, compared to 2006.

Cost of sales diminished slightly to Rb51.4 billion ($2.1 billion), and royalty payments were cut in half to Rb4.8 billion ($196 million).
Net profit was Rb16.2 billion ($659 million), a drop of 6% compared with 2006.

Operating profit, before increased financing costs and income tax were taken, amounted to Rb24.4 billion ($995 million). This trailed the result for 2006 by just Rb109 million ($4.4 million).
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COURT CASTS SHADOW OVER RUSAL LISTING

By John Helmer in Moscow

MOSCOW – It is the clash of the titans of the global nickel, aluminum, copper, bauxite, cobalt and platinum markets – Vladimir Potanin’s Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company, versus Oleg Deripaska’s United Company Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminum producer.

Deripaska, Russia’s richest man, is seeking to take over Norilsk, but his campaign has run into an unprecedented series of international court rulings, blowing the whistle on his business tactics. Blackening reputations, a court in Britain has ruled, is a red-card offense – whether committed in Russia, England, Switzerland, West Africa or Central Asia.

Hong Kong’s market regulators are obliged to follow carefully, because Rusal has publicly said it may try to sell its at present unlisted shares on the Hong Kong market if it fails to gain admission to the London Stock Exchange. No significant Russian company has previously listed on the Hong Kong exchange (HKEx) while, with the exception of the HSBC and Standard Chartered banks, there are no large non-Chinese companies on the bourse that are also co-listed outside Asia.
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EUROCHEM ENTERS GLOBAL POTASH RACE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Eurochem, Russia’s diversified fertilizerproducer owned by Andrei Melnichenko, and still unlisted, has unveiled a series of ambitious plans to challenge Russia’s two largest potash miners, Uralkali (URKA:RU) and Silvinit (SILV:RU).

According to Eurochem sources, the company will move from zero now to planned production of 2.3 million tonnes of potash (potassium chloride) by 2012; and 4.6 million tonnes by 2015; with resource capacity of more than 6 million tonnes of potash by then.

Uralkali has announced that by 2011 it will be producing 7 million tonnes — with additional capacity potential from its Mine-5 still under study. Silvinit is currently producing at 5.5million tonnes of potash per annum. In May, Silvinit told shareholders it is planning an increase of output to 6 million tonnes by next year. A combination of Silvinit with Acron, a producer of complex fertilizers (NPK), at a planned new mine at Verkhnekamskoye, would add an unmeasured volume to their combined potash capacity; the number has yet to be defined by feasibility studies now under way.
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LUNDIN MINING UNDER PRESSURE ON SIBERIAN LEAD-ZINC PROJECT

By John Helmer in Moscow

Lundin looks set for replacement on the Ozernoye base metals project.

Lundin Mining Corporation (ticker LMC:US) is adamant that it will say nothing at all about its two-year old zinc and lead project in Russia, one of the largest in the world.

Speculation that Lundin, a Canadian listed and Swedish controlled polymetallic miner, may be contemplating a voluntary exit from the Ozernoye, in the southeast Siberian region of Buryatia, was encouraged by a red-light paragraph in the company’s annual report for 2007, issued this past March. “The Company has initiated a review of whether evolving investment terms, license amendment progress, and local issues meet the Company’s criteria for ongoing involvement.”

On June 6, shortly before the company moved its headquarters from Vancouver to Toronto, a Toronto newspaper warned that “Lundin could sell Russian zinc mine.” On June 10, a Moscow newspaper reported more accurately – since there is no mine, only drilling, proving and feasibility works – that Lundin was considering the sale of its 49% interest in the project, while its 51% Russian partner, East Siberian Metals(MBC), a subsidiary of the Moscow-based Metropol investment group, is thinking of a new Russian partner. Metropol is controlled by Mikhail Slipenchuk.
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BP TRIES LEVITATION IN BID TO STOP RUSSIAN LOSS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russians go to court for to oust CEO Dudley.

In the middle of 17th century Paris, Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac (that’s the real one, not the 19th century stage character), wrote a fantasy about a voyage to the moon.

To get there, he describes several contrivances, in addition to his own. One, which reportedly delivered the biblical prophet Elijah, involved a large magnetic ball and an iron chariot. To propel the latter into the sky, and thence to the orbit of the moon, the prophet tossed the ball into the air, so that magnetic force would draw the chariot after it. He was obliged to keep catching and tossing to sustain the upward momentum. When it was within gravitational range of the moon, the magnetic ball was tossed downward, and then upward again, in order to break the speed of the chariot’s fall.
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EVRAZ STARTS CAPE LAMBERT IRON-ORE PLAY

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s Evraz steel group makes bid for Cape Lambert iron-ore.

Speculation that the Evraz group (EVR:RU), Russia’s largest steelmaker, is preparing a takeover bid for Cape Lambert Iron Ore Ltd (CFE:AU), the West Australian junior miner, drove the latter’s share price up by 9% in the first day of trading, and another 7.5% today.

Cape Lambert has issued a statement that its board has been meeting Evraz and Merrill Lynch in Singapore, following the disclosure that Evraz had bought a 16% stake in the company early in the week at a price of 73 Australian cents. The current share price is 86 cents, making for a market capitalization of A$324 million.

According to one of Cape Lambert’s directors, the Australians told Evraz and their bankers that for a takeover, they will require a 64% premium over Evraz’s initial acquisition price, or A$1.20 per share.

Evraz, with a market capitalization of $37.6 billion, traded up 2% on Thursday’s news, after falling almost 3% for the week, 8% on the month.
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MECHEL SHARE PRICE LOSES COAL PREMIUM UNDER GOVERNMENT PRESSURE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian steel and mining group faces government investigation after announcement of spinoff and IPO plan for coal-mining and ferroalloy units

The Mechel group (MTL:US, NYSE; MTLR:RU, RTS) — Russia’s leading specialty steelmaker and one of the leading producers of coking coal in the world — has lost 5% off its Moscow-listed share price on Thursday, following the public announcement two days earlier that it is under Russian government investigation for price-rigging and other anti-trust violations.

Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) announced on July 15 that it has opened an inquiry into price-rigging and other anti-trust violations by the Mechel Group’s coal division. The move is the first ever taken by Russia’s anti-trust watchdog against coking coal suppliers to the Russian steel industry.

Mechel is very sensitive to signals from the federal government, as the steel division has been a takeover target for two years past. For the time being, Mechel is claiming it knows of no complaints from clients regarding its coking coal supply or price policy. The company spokesman has also announced that “we haven’t received any official documents about the case.”
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RUSAL REPUTATION CAMPAIGN SEES RED

By John Helmer in Moscow

Despite a brace of judicial rulings from the English courts against blackening reputations as a business tactic, United Company Rusal has reacted to the defeat of its candidates for the Norilsk Nickel board with this blistering ad hominem attack:

“Moscow, 8 July 2008 – UC RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminium and alumina producer and 25% shareholder in Norilsk Nickel, is issuing the following statement in relation to the results of the first meeting of the new Norilsk Nickel Board of Directors which was held on 7 July 2008. The decisions made at this meeting demonstrate that the Board is controlled by Interros and does not represent the interests of all shareholders.

“The election of Sergey Batekhin, deputy CEO of Interros, as the CEO of Norilsk Nickel was made without any search being carried out to establish a shortlist and was not supervised by a Nomination Committee. Indeed the candidacy of the new CEO was presented by Interros at the meeting of the Board right after Vladimir Potanin, owner of Interros, had been elected as the Chairman. Members of the Board were denied the opportunity to have meetings with the candidate or study his biography and professional track-record. Mr. Batekhin has no meaningful experience in metals and mining sector and has never served as the CEO of a public company. Furthermore there was no proper discussion as to why Denis Morozov, the current CEO who proved to be truly independent, was no longer suitable. It is thus not surprising that the vote to appoint Mr. Batekhin passed by a margin of one director.
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OPEN DOOR OR PORTCULLIS? – RUSSIA TO REVIEW FOREIGN MINER STAKES AND SHAREHOLDINGS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian government gears up to open new, and old, foreign investment deals.

The new Russian legislation to supervise foreign investment in the mining and resource sectors is already taking gold miners by surprise.

According to a Russian junior, which is planning to list on the domestic stock market shortly, it has discovered that, before its shares can be sold to foreign portfolio buyers, the Federal Service for Financial Markets (FSFM) must determine whether the foreign buyers are eligible. That requires a government listing of all Russian companies holding gold reserves above the 50-tonne (1.6 million ounce) threshold. That threshold was fixed in the law defining strategic reserves, from which foreign miners and investors are excluded.

The new legislation sets out the list of strategic sectors and metals, and also thresholds for oil, gas, copper and gold. However, there is no government list of companies working with reserves that has been officially verified. As the gold miner has just discovered, the FSFM doesn’t have such a list, because it hasn’t been compiled yet. So the miner cannot get clearance from the market watchdog to sell its shares on the market.
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RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT DELAYS ON STEEL AND COAL PRICING

By John Helmer in Moscow

The proverb that good things come to those who wait has recently been used to sell a brand of ale that takes a long time to pull into the glass.

An older version makes the waiting less optimistical. “Wait, thou child of hope,” coined the 19th century aphorist, Martin Tupper, “for Time shall teach thee all things.” But then Tupper was that special type, the London lawyer, for whom time is money. Tupper’s best known aphorism is the one legal opinion he didn’t manage to charge for. On his gravestone, it is claimed – “Although he is dead, he will speak.”

The time the Russian government is taking over policy towards the domestic cost of steel and its raw materials, coking coal and iron-ore, is instructive, as the policy debate runs now into its third month. There have already been several misleading announcements of decisions that have yet to be finalized. As a tussle between the Russian oil and gas industry, which consumes the steel in pipe form; the steel industry, which supplies the steel for pipes; and the mining industry, which fills and fuels the blast furnaces, the length of time the contenders and decision-makers require to resolve their differences indicates how unprepared the new government is to make the difficult choices.
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RUSSIAN MINING WATCHDOG UNDER PRESSURE TO RESIGN

By John Helmer in Moscow

Oleg Mitvol, Deputy Head of Rospriradnadzor, looks to be on the way out, perhaps for stepping on too many toes

In the first days of aerial warfare, during World War I, pilots had no tactical guidebook to help them plot their offence or defence. Attackers could fly unexpectedly out of the blinding light of the sun. Or they could lurk in cloud banks, waiting for an ambush. Those who survived describe their learning experience as akin to an animal instinct. In anticipating what the enemy might be likely to do, they imagined where and how they would conceal themselves for the attack. To defend themselves, they would then watch the sky for their alter ago.

Oleg Mitvol, deputy chief of Rospriradnadzor, Russia’s environmental protection and resource inspectorate, has been flying blind since he took his post several years ago. He has no alter ego, but he hasn’t lacked for enemies waiting in ambush. In the short history of post-Communist Russia, Mitvol is the first, and the only, federal government official to pursue the major and junior mining companies working in Russia for licence violations. He has also attacked major metal producers, like the steel group Evraz, for waste water violations, imposing the largest individual fine in the brief record of Russian environmental enforcement.
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OLEG DERIPASKA LOSES BATTLE TO STAY OUT OF THE HIGH COURT

By John Helmer in Moscow

Oleg Deripaska is not having a good week.

On Monday, he revealed he was at maximum stretch to garner just enough shareholder votes for two seats on the Norilsk Nickel board, plus a seat for his highly unpredictable and unreliable shareholding ally, Mikhail Prokhorov.

On Thursday, Justice Christopher Clarke issued a 63-page ruling, granting the application of Deripaska’s former patron and business partner, Mikhail Chernoy (Michael Cherney), the right to a High Court trial of his $6 billion claim to his stake in Rusal, and in Deripaska’s holding, Basic Element. For the first time in an international court, Deripaska has been defeated on the issue of jurisdiction, and must now accept service and stand trial for the partnership agreement he allegedly signed with Cherney at the Lanesborough Hotel in London in March 2001.

According to Clarke’s ruling, “the two most important witnesses are the parties themselves. A substantial proportion of the relevant material (e.g. as to company structures, instructions to lawyers and accountants and movement of funds) must be in writing. Several witnesses, such as the representatives of Syndikus and Mr Philipides, Mr Mishakov and others are likely to be seasoned travellers. Neither party has suggested that they will suffer significant prejudice if the trial takes place here.”
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NORNICK SHAREHOLDERS PREFER THE DEVIL THEY KNOW

By John Helmer in Moscow

“The cleverest subtlety of all is knowing how to appear to fall into the traps set for us,’ is the maxim coined by La Rochefoucauld, one of the cleverest of the 17th century French courtiers. His wounds as a soldier, and the even more serious ones he took in politics, qualified him for early retirement, which he spent making sophisticated ladies nod in agreement at his bitter apophthegms. “People are never caught so easily as when they are out to catch others.”

The outcome of the voting this week by 77% of Norilsk Nickel’s shareholders indicates that although Oleg Deripaska has won a seat for himself on the board, plus one for his chief executive, Alexander Bulygin, and a third for his shareholding ally, Mikhail Prokhorov, he’s in a trap of his own making, from which it will take time to extricate himself.

The stock market reaction to the vote at the AGM of Norilsk Nickel (GMKN:RU) initially misunderstood the result, and cut the share price by 4% to $242; that was decidedly worse than the RTS index as a whole for the day. The pessimism appears to have stemmed from the view that there had been no decisive outcome — neither for controlling shareholder, Vladimir Potanin, nor from hostile takeover bidder UC Rusal, the Deripaska company.
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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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