ALUMINIUM SMELTER EMISSIONS AT CENTRE OF TAKEOVER CONTEST

By John Helmer in Moscow

Smelter pollution charges fly in Rusal-Norilsk clash.

The fight for control of Russia’s largest mining company, Norilsk Nickel, has turned into a battle over smelter emissions and environmental safety.

UC Rusal (Russian Aluminium), the Russian aluminium monopoly, fired the first shot as part of its hostile takeover attempt of Norilsk Nickel, the leading nickel and palladium exporter in the world. Rusal is controlled by Oleg Deripaska; Norilsk Nickel by Vladimir Potanin. Never before have these Russian oligarchs tangled so publicly and directly with Russia’s growing ecological movements, and the internationals — Greenpeace, Greenline and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Rusal took the offensive after losing Russian government support for the takeover, following a meeting Deripaska and Potanin had with Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin on July 28.

On August 12, Rusal dispatched an open letter to Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former government administrator, and Sechin’s candidate as chief executive of Norilsk Nickel. In its letter to him, Rusal chief executive Alexander Bulygin claimed to be “seriously concerned with the environmental situation relating to production activities at Norilsk Nickel’s facilities in Russia. According to the state environmental monitoring service and international public organisations, the environmental situation at Norilsk is on the brink of catastrophe.”
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GUNVOR WIN IN OIL SHIPPING TENDER DRAWS COURT CHALLENGE

COURT TO RULE ON DISCLOSURE OF TRANSFER PRICE OF RUSSIAN OIL

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian oil trading company Gunvor, controlled in Geneva by Gennady Timchenko, is facing margin uncertainties as the global oil price falls, and Russian producers respond to a profit squeeze of high taxes and rising costs.

Exactly what happens when a barrel of Urals crude moves from the wellhead into the international market, at what cost, and at what margin of profit, are three questions a recent Moscow court ruling suggests may only be disclosed if you hold 25% or more of the shares of the Russian oil company. And in the case of Rosneft, Russia’s leading producer and exporter, that is the state. A series of three lawsuits, including one to be heard in St. Petersburg next week, is seeking court-ordered disclosure of shipment volumes, wellhead oil prices, freight charges, and trade discounts allegedly granted to Gunvor last year by several exporters — Rosneft, Gazpromneft, and Surgutneftgas. According to company disclosures, the state owns 88% of Rosneft; 72% of Gazpromneft.

According to oil production results for June of this year, total Russian crude output was 9.8 million barrels per day (mbd). Rosneft led the majors with 2.3 mbd; Surgutneftgas produced 1.3 mbd (third in line behind TNK-BP); while Gazpromneft was in fifth place with 621,000 bd.
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POTANIN GAINS SHAREHOLDING CONTROL AT NORILSK

POTANIN IN BUY-BACK — IS DERIPASKA IN SELL-OUT?

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Bubble Metric Index (BMI) is a measure of the distance between the fantasy of money and financial reality.

In the past month, it has been weighing unusually heavily on the oligarchs who own pieces of Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company. Especially those whose obligations have been secured by the value of commodities that have dropped in price, and by shares whose value has plummeted.

In the Russian macro-economy, the BMI can be expressed as the distance between the market capitalization of the listed stocks, as recorded on the stock exchanges, and the money supply as reported by the Central Bank. Between the year 2000 and the autumn of 2005, the two measures tracked together closely. You could say that the amount of cash available to invest correlated with the cash value of the investment. Then the market cap took off, hitting a peak of about $1600 billion in May of this year. Money supply, however, grew at a snail’s pace. When market cap was at its May high, money supply was around $600 billion. The gap between the two, lasting the thirty months from 2006 to mid-2008, is what is popularly known as the bubble, or, on account of its duration and magnitude, the MEGA-BUBBLE.
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THE GASSLINGER — RUSSIA SIGNS STRATEGIC CARIBBEAN GAS DEAL, AS RUSSIAN NAVY FOLLOWS

Have gas, will travel

By John Helmer in Moscow

You have to be older than Condoleezza Rice (b. November 14, 1954) to remember the first episodes of the greatest western ever to be broadcast on US radio and television. That was “Have Gun, Will Travel”, beginning in 1957. Over the following six years, in 225 episodes, the pock-marked Richard Boone, attired in black on horseback and at table, played Paladin, a classically educated, multilingual gentleman, who preferred reading poetry to cards, and who recommended settling conflicts by negotiation. When that failed, however, he used a hair-trigger Colt revolver, a concealed derringer, and a Winchester rifle, to dispose of his adversaries.

The Asian audience for the series was less than enamoured of Paladin’s comic foil, a bellhop at his San Francisco hotel called Hey Boy.

The key to Paladin’s strategy was the symbol of the knight chess piece. In one of the scripts, Paladin explained that the knight is “the most versatile on the board. It can move in eight different directions, over obstacles, and it’s always unexpected.”

This past week, while Rice spokesman at State Department fumed and snickered, the Russians entered the American hemisphere, well-armed but with peaceful intentions, to teach a Paladin trick or two.
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RUSSIAN GOLD CLIMBS OUT OF THE BUNKER

By John Helmer in Moscow

Analysts at Moscow’s Renaissance Capital reckon Russian asset values are priced below bargain basement.

A typo in the lead cannot take the glister off Renaissance Capital’s fresh report on Russian gold buying opportunities.

The report, by analysts Rob Edwards and Andrey Krupnik, is entitled “CIS Gold and Silver: A Golden Opportunity”. The lead paragraph says: “We believe gold is well poisoned [sic] to make further gains in the near term. This is somewhat dependent on movements in the dollar, which has reversed its bull run against the world’s major currencies.”

RenCap analyzes just three of the Russian gold producers – Polyus Gold (PLZL:RU), which is currently trading at $25, 60% down over the past three months; Polymetal (PMTL:RU) at $5, down 40%; and Highland Gold (HGM) at 76 cents, down 75%. Peter Hambro Mining (POG:LN), which is London listed, is down 41%, and currently at 741 pence.
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OTHER SIDE OF THE TALCO SAGA

Tajik publication attacks Mineweb’s Helmer and his reporting on aluminium group.

Johannesburg – On September 11, Mineweb published a report by John Helmer, entitled “IMF Attacks Tajikistan Aluminium Co – orders international audit”.

Publication followed attempts by Mineweb’s Moscow office to ask the following questions of Talco in Dushanbe:

1. According to an IMF country report for Tajikistan, issued in June, the IMF considers Talco’s non-transparency and financial control to be “most worrisome”. The IMF says: “the financial operations of the aluminum company (Talco), the largest SOE in Tajikistan, remain nontransparent.”

How does Talco respond to the criticism?
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THE NEW STATE STRATEGY FOR SPECIAL STEELS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russpetstal (“Russian Special Steel”, RSS), the steel affiliate of the state-owned Russian Technologies holding, has decided to acquire up to 4 new operating mills if the price is right, and it can raise the finance from Russian state banks. Details of the targets of RSS’s 18-24 month strategy were recently approved by the RSS board, and disclosed by Igor Alexeyev, deputy chief executive of RSS for strategy and finance.

In an interview this week with CRU Steel News, Alexeyev said the new strategy includes “two to three or four targets” for acquisition”, together with a target for investment into the plants RSS has already acquired.

One of the new acquisition targets may be outside Russia, Alexeyev said, the purpose of which will be to acquire specialty steel technology and management skills currently unavailable in the domestic sector. Following the collapse of demand for stainless and other specialty steels after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Alexeyev explains in a report to be presented at CRU’s stainless conference next week, there has been inadequate investment in new technology and plant facilities for state-of-the-art finishing equipment.
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MORDASHOV ARRANGES STEEL SHARE BUYBACK

Oligarchs put hand in till

By John Helmer in Moscow.

It is a time of extreme paradox. In Soviet style, the US Government is nationalizing its financial instututions to stave off massive default. The Russian Government, by contrast, is encouraging free-market operations to prop up the indebtedness of the oligarchs, while the Finance Ministry, having been embarrassed holding worthless Fannie Mae paper, is now proposing to invest the sovereign wealth fund in depreciating oligarch securities.

A Financial Times reporter close to Oleg Deripaska, owner of Rusal, the Russian aluminium conglomerate, reported this week that he is “facing margin calls of more than $4bn, people familiar with the situation say.” This is a reference to the financing Deripaska raised in the spring to pay part of the purchase price of Mikhail Prokhorov’s 25% shareholding in Norilsk Nickel. Also this week, Deripaska’s Moscow holding is reported as telling Reuters that it will shortly launch a China roadshow to put an improved value on the group’s mining assets. The roadshow is scheduled to follow a Hong Kong tour by the Bolshoi Theatre ballet company, sponsored by Deripaska.

The reports have suggested that if the Chinese market reaction is positive, and the price is right, Deripaska’s Strikeforce Mining and Resources (SMR) may attempt to place shares on the Hong Kong exchange. SMR mines copper-molybdenum deposits at two sites in Siberia, with capacity to lift and process 13 million tonnes of ore per annum. Two refineries in the production chain can produce up to 7,000 tonnes of ferromolybdenum per annum. The price of ferromolybdenum has been dropping, though not yet as steeply as the price of steel and aluminium.
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ALROSA AGREES WITH DRC ON SENGAMINES TAKEOVER

By John Helmer in Moscow

Mining entrepreneur Mike Nunn says First African Diamonds, a company he owns, was illegally expropriated, and that he is taking the DRC government to arbitration in Geneva.

President Joseph Kabila’s review and reorganization of controversial diamond-mining licences and concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) apparently took a new direction this past week, with approval of a Russian proposal to develop the Sengamines project. Until April of this year, this has been under the control of South African mining entrepreneur Mike Nunn and First African Diamonds Ltd. (FAD), a company he owns.

Nunn has told Mineweb that FAD was illegally expropriated, and he is taking the DRC government to arbitration in Geneva.

Alrosa says that it has agreed to start diamond prospecting in the DRC, at Kabila’s request. But Alrosa sources say that details of the undertaking, and of a meeting Alrosa chief executive Sergei Vybornov had last week with Kabila, should be kept secret. It is Vybornov’s second meeting with Kabila this year; the first occurred, with comparably little disclosure, in March.
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RUSSIANS AGREE TO LAUNCH SA SATELLITE, BUT UNCERTAINTY REMAINS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s space agency Roskosmos has agreed to launch the South African Sunbandila satellite by the end of this year at the Baikonour cosmodrome, Roskosmos sources have told Business Day. They confirm earlier statements by Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that an earlier controversy over launch agreements between the two governments for rocketing both a civilian and a military satellite into space had been resolved.

One mystery remains, however. According to sources in Moscow, in the negotiations to resume the Sumbandila launch, the SA government agreed to permit the establishment of a Russian telemetry receiving and rocket tracking station on SA territory. However, the sources now say there is no agreement on this station, and it is not clear why.

Dlamini-Zuma said in May, during a visit to Moscow, that she and her Russian counterparts had resolved their differences on the satellite launch problem, and that she hoped to “see the launch of the satellite by the end of this year.” Ronnie Mamoepa, the Minister’s spokesman, told Business Day/Weekender that resolution of delays and disputes over the satellite launch had been the “priority” of the minister’s visit to Moscow at the time. The Russian text of the protocol, which Dlamini-Zuma and Yury Trutnev, Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources, signed on May 23 set a deadline of July “to finish consultations to find the solution to the problems connected to the launch of the satellite ZA-002”. Asked about the nature of the problems causing the delays, Mamoepa claimed they were technical ones.
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IMF ATTACKS TAJIKISTAN ALUMINIUM CO — ORDERS INTERNATIONAL AUDIT

By John Helmer in Moscow

A new IMF report reveals for the first time where Tajikistan’s aluminium revenues are going.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a report that is sharply critical of the Tajikistan Aluminium Company (Talco), the leading enterprise of the Central Asian republic run by President Emomali Rahmon; and has ordered an independent international auditor to check Talco’s accounts for what the IMF describes as “most worrisome financial operations [which] remain nontransparent.”

For the first time, the IMF report has disclosed how little the country’s economy — the poorest in Central Asia — earned from its principal industry, biggest electricity consumer, and most valuable exporter — in 2006 and 2007, just 17% of the value of the aluminium Talco produces and ships to foreign buyers.

The IMF action is an embarrassing curtain-raiser for President Rahmon, who directly controls Talco, and who is behind the hugely expensive UK High Court case, which Talco is waging against Avaz Nazarov and his group of companies, who were ousted from management of the Tajik smelter in 2004, on Rahmon’s order. The four-year old case, in which Talco is represented by the UK law firm, Herbert Smith, has set a UK and world record for legal costs that have now exceeded $126 million. The judge in the case, Justice Tomlinson, has ordered leading figures in Tajikistan, including the President’s brother-in-law, the leading commercial banker of Tajikistan, Hassan Saduloev, to appear for testimony on oath and cross-examination in the trial now scheduled to commence in October.
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RUSSIA’S BIGGEST COPPER CONTEST IS DECIDED ON CLOUT

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Udokan copper contest has been won, but by whom?

In April, Mineweb reported that Russia’s biggest copper contest was going to be a very private affair.

Even if there are just two, possibly three contenders — we said at the time — predicting who will win over the next 90 days of the contest may prove to be more frustrating than it looks:
http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page36?oid=50524&sn=Detail

This week, the decision to award Russia’s largest unmined copper deposit to a duo, Metalloinvest and Russian Technologies, which has never mined copper, confirmed, after the contest had stretched to six months, just how private — and how unclear the prospects for the project continue to be.

Metalloinvest is an unlisted private conglomerate, with two steel mills and two iron-ore mines, which has been having trouble getting a valuation and an underwriter to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange. It is owned in three stakes, whose magnitudes have never been publicly confirmed or verified, by Alisher Usmanov (with about 50%); Andrei Skoch (30%); and Vasily Anisimov (20%).
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URALKALI AND THE ICARUS FACTOR — WHY THE FUNDAMENTALS AREN’T SAVING THE SHARE PRICE FALL

By John Helmer in Moscow

In antique legend, Icarus was the boy who, ignoring his father’s prudential warning, flew too close to the sun, melting the wax from his wings, and plummeting to his death as a consequence. In W.H. Auden’s modern reflection on the incident, noone witnessing the plunge cared much, while “the expensive delicate ship that must have seen/Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky/ had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

The commodity market has been like that recently, sailing on, as high-flyers like Uralkali, the leading Russian potash stock (ticker URKA:LI, URKA:RU) dropped into the sea.

The current standing for Uralkali, at the end of trading on September 9, is a share price of $7, and market capitalization of $14.9 billion. Since June 20, ten weeks ago, Uralkali has fallen from $16 per share, with market cap of $34 billion; a decline of 56% and $19 billion in value.
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RUSSIANS RESPOND WITH CALM TO AUSTRALIAN URANIUM THREAT

By John Helmer in Moscow

BHPB’s Russian relationship hostage to Canberra uranium threat as Australian govt invokes Caucasus war to stir uranium sale opposition.

A threat last week by Australian politicians to revoke a year-old agreement for Australian uranium concentrate to be processed into fuel in Russia has been met with calm in Moscow, where sources noted that the uranium is not planned to start moving for another seven years, until 2015. Russian sources close to the uranium negotiations between the two countries also point out that the major loser, if the Australian government implements its threat, will be BHP Billiton, which had been one of the most active lobbyists for the uranium supply deal in the first place.

At a public hearing in Canberra by the joint parliamentary committee on treaties on September 1, Kelvin Thompson, a backbencher who chairs the committee, said he wants to delay ratification of the agreement on uranium supply, processing, and nuclear energy cooperation, which was signed by then President Vladimir Putin and former Prime Minister John Howard, on September 8.
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BP ACCEPTS THE INEVITABLE — RUSSIAN DEAL IS DEFEAT FOR ENGLISH POLITICS, WIN FOR THE MARKET

By John Helmer in Moscow

If anyone needed convincing, the paper which British Petroleum (ticker BP:LN) signed yesterday with Mikhail Fridman and his Russian shareholding partners proves that defying the law of gravity is unlikely to succeed for long; even if the world’s weakest prime minister, Gordon Brown, and his foreign minister David Miliband, have tried to stake their short-term political careers on it; and even if the Financial Times has tried to make the inevitable fall appear to be a masterly exercise in BP negotiating skill.

To hang on to the 23% of its global oil reserves located in Russia, 25% of its current oil production, and a comparable amount of its market capitalization, BP has been trying to defy a losing position since Robert Dudley, BP’s chief operative in Moscow, was found out, having tried to negotiate secretly with Gazprom the sale and purchase of the 50% stake in TNK-BP.

TNK-BP (TNBP:RU) is the 50/50 joint venture which BP shares with the Russian trio of Fridman,Len Blavatnik, and Victor Vekselberg; reflecting the names of their respective holdings, Alfa, Access and Renova, they are collectively known as AAR.
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MITVOL STANDS UP TO NEW OUSTER MOVE BY RIVAL

By John Helmer in Moscow

Vladimir Kirillov, the new chief of Russia’s mine licence inspectorate, Rosprirodnadzor, has tried to fire Oleg Mitvol, his independent deputy, this week — after failing to oust Mitvol for the past seven months. In the annals of the federal Ministry of Natural Resources, Mitvol’s resistance is unique; as is the apparent reluctance of the minister, Yury Trutnev, a former provincial governor backed by the LUKoil oil company, to intervene in the contest of wills, and in the conflict below the surface of Russia’s use-or-lose resource licensing policy.

On June 18, the state newsagency Itar-Tass reported that Mitvol had been “stripped of his water, forest and ecological supervision powers, which have constituted most of his competences”. This was the first sign of an apparent official decision, following informal efforts by Kirillov, commencing in February, to press Mitvol to resign. An anonymous source was cited by Itar-Tass for its information. It was also reported that “according to the source, the Rosprirodnadzor chief, Vladimir Kirillov, has no intention of submitting a motion to Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev for re-appointing Mitvol as his deputy.” Itar-Tass confirmed Mitvol as saying: “As far as I know, in a future staff list, yet to be authorized, the position of a fourth deputy, that is, of yours truly, is absent.”
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RUSSIA STEPS ON THE GAS – GEORGIA AND UKRAINE TO PAY

By John Helmer in Moscow

Anti-Russian allies fail to cook on hot air.

Russia demonstrated on Tuesday that it retains the backing of the major Central Asian gas producers and exporters to Europe – despite public calls from UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and American figures that alternative, non-Russian supplies of Europe’s gas should be developed swiftly.

In a ceremony in Tashkent on Tuesday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, agreed that Gazprom, Russia’s largest enterprise, will buy gas from Uzbekistan at European prices, and build a new gas pipeline from Central Asia, transiting Russia, in order to boost gas purchases from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. For lack of available gas-feed, the Tashkent deal dooms the Nabucco alternative pipeline, proposed by the NATO alliance to cross Georgian territory, and under the Black Sea to Austria.

In March, Gazprom had agreed with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan over gas purchases starting in 2009 at European prices that have already reached $400 per thousand cubic metres (tcm); this is 50% to 100% higher than the current purchase prices of Central Asian gas.
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NO HOLE TOO DEEP OR TOO FAR FOR SHAFT SINKERS

By John Helmer in Moscow

The IMR takeover of Shaft Sinkers is the second major asset purchase in SA for a trio of Kazakh businessmen.

THE decline in mining stocks and metal prices is unlikely to hurt SA’s specialist in shaft and tunnel excavation for mines, Shaft Sinkers MD Rob Schroder says. Johannesburg-based Shaft Sinkers has won a $270m contract, its first in Russia, to dig one of two shafts at a new potash mine being developed south of Moscow by the Eurochem group.

“The market has been reflecting a rapid increase in demand over the last 12 months,” Schroder told Business Day in a recent interview.

“Not only due to the commodity boom, but to resources in general. Hydro-electrical schemes with their shaft requirements, as well as long-term nuclear storage facilities for waste, are also coming to the fore.”
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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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