WHILE THE BEAR WAS BOOMING

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian Federation’s decade of rampant economic growth has been a boon to maritime activity and ports on the Black Sea. But the good times are coming to an end, writes John Helmer

Russia has been aiming to develop dry cargo movements, both export and import, as the preferred direction for Russian oil exports shifts eastward towards China, and from Arctic oilfields in the north westwards into northern Europe. Of course, that was before the global financial crisis intensified earlier in the autumn.

But the signs of trouble were there to be seen as early as July. Container volumes into Novorossiysk, Russia’s leading Black Sea outlet, had been booming on the back of growth in Russian incomes and consumer demand – up 42% in the first five months of the year, compared to 2007. By July, however, the turndown was already on the horizon. Novorossiysk reported for the month that container volume had slipped 10%, compared to June, and by 33% compared to July 2007. Reefer volumes fell in parallel by 84% and 63%, respectively. Steel, scrap, sugar, timber, and non-ferrous metals also fell sharply in the month, compared to the same period of last year. Crude oil, the mainstay of Novorossiysk, remained flat, both June to July and year-on-year.

The gloom had also started to descend on the Azov Sea ports, as the export of steel, aluminium, copper, and scrap began to suffer from falling global prices and falling export demand. In their place, there was the Turkish cement boom, which began in January this year, after Moscow had eliminated the import duty and encouraged Turkish imports to supply the burgeoning demand, especially in southwest Russia, along the Black Sea coast, for construction materials. Import volumes of mineral construction materials (MCM) also skyrocketed. Reports from the regional North Caucasus Railroad indicate a 30% jump in MCM tonnage transported, compared to the first half of 2007. Cement more than doubled to about 1.5M tonnes in the same period.
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TAJIK ALUMINIUM COURT CASE ENDS IN LONDON DEFEAT FOR PRESIDENT RAHMON

By John Helmer in Moscow

In a stunning repudiation of Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, lawyers for the Tajikistan Aluminium Plant (Talco) agreed overnight to halt their High Court case in London. They have settled with Avaz Nazarov, the Ansol company, a former manager and traders of the aluminium plant, whom Rahmon and his cronies ousted in December 2004, in a scheme that has diverted more than half a billion dollars in aluminium export profits to safe haven in the British Virgin Islands.

Details of the settlement have not been made public; Nazarov and the others decline to comment. But the ramifications of their victory have only started to be counted — in Dushanbe, at Rahmon’s presidential palace, and in the board rooms of several international organizations, whose executives have been implicated in the frauds alleged in the court testimony, and documented in the evidence presented so far. The overnight agreement by the lawyers puts a stop to further disclosures in London, but the evidence remains for possible prosecution in Oslo, and internal investigations at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who have been backing Rahmon in the litigation that has now failed.

Although noone is saying, the confidential settlement appears to include reimbursement by Talco of the multi-million pound costs incurred by the targets of the court case, one of the most costly ever recorded in the UK courts.
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PRESIDENT RAHMON FORCED TO END TAJIK ALUMINIUM COURT CASE IN LONDON

The news has just been received from London of the capitulation overnight of President Emomali Rahmon and the Tajikistan Aluminium Plant in their court case against Avaz Nazarov and a group of former managers and traders of the aluminium plant. The terms of the settlement, and details of the circumstances, which put a stop to one of the most costly court cases ever litigated in London, will follow shortly.

One of the key documents in evidence is an agreement involving Hydro Aluminium of Norway, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Bank, implicating their senior officials in what has been described in court as a racketeering scheme to divert hundreds of millions of dollars of profit out of Tajikistan.

Settlement Agreement between Norsk Hydro and TadAZ, Dec 20, 2006

USMANOV AND RASHNIKOV IN IRON-ORE PRICING BATTLE

By John Helmer in Moscow

In a contest of bargaining power reminiscent of the 2005 battle between Alisher Usmanov of Metalloinvest and Victor Rashnikov, owner of Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), MMK is demanding that Metalloinvest lower its iron-ore price, and is refusing to pay for previous deliveries. Metalloinvest says it has cut production at its two iron-ore mines, Mikhailovsky and Lebedinsky, by 35% since October 1, and that it is demanding Russian mill buyers pay up on arrears of Rb10 billion ($357 million).

Olga Paleva, spokesman for Metalloinvest, told CRU Steel News, “the company doesn’t want to name the buyers who owe Metalloinvest.” Lev Chesalov, steel analyst at Rusmet, said the only major Russian steelmaker which buys from Metalloinvest is MMK.

On Friday [21 November], MMK posted an announcement on its website withdetails of its crisis management programme. The company said it has agreed with its coking coal suppliers — Raspadskaya (an Evraz unit), Mechel, and Belon (part-owned by MMK) — to reduce the price of their deliveries by 30%, starting on December 1. Rashnikov’s mill has already announced a 70% price cut for scrap — supplied by a company run by Rashnikov’s brother — and a 30% reduction for ferroalloys. Rashnikov is cited as claiming that the plant can respond to a revival of demand by boosting output by 1 million tonnes per month, if the market conditions warrant. But the company announcement omitted to say what target cut in the iron-ore price it is seeking.
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KALAHARI MINE DISPUTE PUTS OFF RUSSIANS

By John Helmer in Moscow

After six months of negotiations have failed to resolve investment and spending conditions, Victor Vekselberg’s Renova group and United Manganese of Kalahari (UMK), its South African partner, have been unable to agree on whether the project is dead, on care and maintenance, or life-support.

One result is that the Russian government appears to have downgraded its interest in the SA-Russia inter-governmental committee on trade and economic cooperation (ITEC). A session of the committee was held in Durban on Tuesday [November 25]. South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chaired for the SA side. Yury Trutnev, the Russian Minister of Natural Resources, is usually the co-chairman, and he is attending the Durban meeting, between stops in Guinea and Namibia. Trustnev’s office told Business Day it has no information on the Kalahari manganese mine dispute.

“I don’t think anything is happening there,” a Russian analyst of Africa said of South Africa.

Vekselberg, who has a seat on the SA President’s International Investment Council, and attended its last meeting in October, refuses to answer questions about his investment promises and problems in SA. Instead, his spokesman referred to Mark Buzuk and Alexander Belokrys of Renova, who are responsible for the African operations of the group. They too refused to say what they have invested in the Kalahari manganese project, and what has happened to their conflict with Pretoria over investment terms, first reported last May.
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PUTIN SAVES ABRAMOVICH’S US SAFE HAVEN

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is reported to have approved a US$1.8 billion loan for steel and mining giant Evraz Group, whose major shareholders include Roman Abramovich, following a board session of the board last Friday.

Evraz sources decline to confirm the loan, reported by a Moscow newspaper. VEB issues no confirmations of its loans.

The group had announced earlier, on November 13, that it had secured a loan of 10 billion rubles (US$360 million) from the Russian state-controlled VTB bank to cover tax payment obligations of two of its domestic mills, Nizhny Tagil and Zabsib.

Details of how VEB will secure the new loan against US assets in the Evraz Group, such as Oregon Steel Mills (Oregon and Colorado), Claymont Steel (Delaware), and the IPSCO pipemaking units in Canada – Regina, Surrey, Red Deer, Camrose, and Calgary – have not been disclosed by the bank, and Evraz refuses to say.
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URALKALI MAKES OFFER FOR RAIL BYPASS TO END GOVT CLAIMS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Uralkali, Russia’s dominant potash exporter, has made an offer to compensate the costs of the state-owned Russian Railways Company (RZD) to build the bypass around the Berezinki sink-hole and mine subsidence. The offer was reported in a Moscow newspaper, and confirmed by a company source. The offer was contained in letters to Deputy Prime minister Igor Sechin, and the Minister for Natural Resources, Yury Trutnev.

Sources close to Uralkali told Fertilizer Week that Uralkali understands that the purpose of the newly appointed commission of inquiry into the Berezniki problems — ordered by Sechin October 29 — is to calculate how the rail costs should be apportioned between users of the new line. The commission has begun deliberations, and is due to issue its report next month. However, Uralkali believes it would be unfair for it to shoulder the rail costs alone, when several other major exporters, including potash producer Silvinit and titanium exporter VSMPO also use the rail-line. Other commercial users include ammonia and urea producer, Berezniki Azot, a unit of Uralchem.

RZD spokesman Dmitry Pertsev told FW that RZD has already financed on its own account the first 800-metre bypass built in 2006; then a 6-km line, costing Rb 450 million ($17 million); and “now we’ve planned a bypass line of 53-km.” He estimated that to date, the rail company has spent Rb50 million ($2 million) on the new bypass, and will require “another Rb9 to 11 billion [$333-$407 million]”.
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DE BEERS EXTENDS NEGOTATING DEADLINE FOR ARCHANGEL MINE

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian government agency responsible for negotiating the terms of DeBeers’s new Grib diamond mine project in the Arkhangelsk region of northwestern Russia has agreed to extend a deal deadline, which fell on November 15.

At that point, and in the week that followed, De Beers and its affiliate Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC), have continued talks with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in Moscow on terms for domestic cutting and polishing of the project’s mined rough. These terms, in a vaguely worded “ancillary agreement”, are the precondition for the Russian government’s approval of the joint venture between DeBeers and LUKoil, which respectively own ADC and Arkhangelskgeoldobycha (AGD), the project operators. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired the Control Commission for Foreign Investment, which gave its conditional approval, on October 10.

Putin then delayed signing the protocol of the meeting for a fortnight, before ADC acknowledged receiving it, along with the draft of the approval conditions. FAS told PolishedPrices.com that November 15 was the deadline by which DeBeers should reply and agree, or allow the approval, and the deal, to lapse. Tom Beardmore-Grey, ADC’s chief executive and a DeBeers veteran, refuses to answer questions, as speculation grows that the senior management of DeBeers in London has become so diffident about its long-term Russian prospects, and so reluctant to commit to new project conditions, it is considering the option of abandoning the Grib project altogether.
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RUSSIA’S BLACK SEA STRATEGY DEPENDS ON DRY CARGO, MOSCOW SPENDING — AND FINGERS CROSSED

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s Black Sea strategy has been aiming to develop dry-cargo movements, both export and import, as the preferred direction for Russian oil exportsshifts eastward towards China, and from Arctic oilfields in the north, westwards into northern Europe. That was before theglobal financial crisis intensified in the autumn.

But the signs of trouble were already darkening by July. Container volumes into Novorossiysk, Russia’s leading Black Sea outlet, had been booming on the growth of Russian incomes and consumer demand; up 42% in the first five months of the year, compared to 2007. In July, however, the turndown was already visible. Novorossiysk reported for that month that container volume had slipped 10%, compared to the month of June; and by 33%, compared to July of 2007. Reefer volumes fell in parallel by 84% and 63%, respectively. Steel scrap, sugar, timber, and non-ferrous metals also fell sharply in the month, compared to the same period of last year. Crude oil, the mainstay of Novorossiysk, remained flat, June to July, and year on year.

The gloom had also started to descend on the Azov Sea ports, as the export of steel, aluminium, copper, and scrap began to suffer from falling global prices and falling export demand.
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ALROSA AND KRISTALL CLASH OVER DISCOUNT

By John Helmer in Moscow

Market reports that Smolensk Kristall refused last month to buy rough from Alrosa have been denied by Alrosa.

According to sources in Alrosa, the Russian state diamond company, Kristall proposed a 20% discount on purchases of Alrosa’s current rough price. Alrosa refused to supply, claiming that its pricing is in line with levels reported by De Beers in September transactions.

Instead of a price discount, Alrosa said that Kristall, along with other buyers, may exercise the option not to take 20% of an assortment, if they are unprofitable to cut.

Alrosa also told PolishedPrices that Kristall’s pricing would be loss making for Alrosa.
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MYSTERY AND THREAT SURROUND URALKALI INVESTIGATION

By John Helmer in Moscow

Government officials refuse to provide details of the order to reopen an investigation into the two-year old collapse of Uralkali’s Mine-1 at Berezeniki.

Uralkali, meanwhile, fears that a scheme of renationalization may have been started, targeting a takeover of Uralkali from its current shareholders.

According to an Interfax wire service report, and an announcement last Friday by Uralkali, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin has directed the Federal Service for Ecological, Technical and Atomic Supervision (Rostekhnadzor) to form a commission within the next two weeks to determine the causes of the accident at the Berezniki mine in October of 2006, the amount of damage inflicted on the state and on other companies, as well as the legal responsibility of the mine-owner, Uralkali. An initial Rostekhnadzor investigation, immediately after the mine collapse, ruled that “a very complicated, rare and abnormal geological condition” within the Verkhnekamsk deposit had caused the subsidence, and that this was force majeure, eliminating Uralkali’s liability.

Sechin’s office refused to respond to questions about the order, or the meeting of officials late last month, at which it was decided. First Deputy Prime Minister Victor Zubkov, the official who usually supervises the fertilizer sector, also refused comment on why Zubkov had not been involved. Both officials referred to the press spokesman of the Prime Ministry. He told FW he “cannot comment on anything”. There is no official notice of the meeting, reportedly on October 29, on the government website.
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PENNILESS IN WEST AFRICA — RUSSIAN ALUMINIUM EMPIRE IN TROUBLE IN NIGERIA, GUINEA

By John Helmer in Moscow

Financial collapse inside Oleg Deripaska’s aluminium empire in Moscow is triggering fresh moves by rivals and critics to oust his company from Nigeria and the Republic of Guinea (Conakry).

A costly electricity failure at the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) has already paralyzed operations there for several weeks, while a Nigerian Supreme Court challenge to the four-year old Russian takeover of the plant, Nigeria’s only domestic source of aluminiun, is expected to be adjudicated in hearings before the end of next month. A Nigerian National Assembly report recommended recently that the privatization agreement for ALSCON be revoked for failure on the part of Deripaska’s company to meet investment spending conditions.

In Guinea, a government move is under way to review the privatization terms, according to which United Company Rusal, which is registered in Jersey and controlled from Moscow by Deripaska, took control over the Friguia alumina refinery, the Kindia bauxite mine, and other licences. Again, alleged failure to make good on capital spending and investment obligations is at issue. Responding to local protests, the Guinean government is also seeking higher wage, social welfare, and infrastructure payments from Rusal.
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RUSSIANS DEMAND OPEN-END CUTTING DEAL FOR ARCHANGEL PROJECT TO START

By John Helmer in Moscow

De Beers has a hundred-million dollar hook in its mouth, and it isn’t sure whether to bite, or try spitting it out.

Russian sources say that the conditional approval, granted last month by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the Verkhotina diamond mining project to commence with joint venture partner LUKoil, has now been drafted into an “ancillary agreement”.

Tom Beardmore-Gray, the De Beers executive who heads Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC), has declined to answer questions about what is in the agreement, and whether De Beers is likely to accept it.

An ADC source said: “We are currently seeking further clarity on the condition attached to the Commission’s approval and as such we are not able to comment right now on the specifics of any beneficiation programme or on the potential economic impact on any of the parties.” De Beers said through a spokesman: “We are an insider so we are unable to disclose anything further.”
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CHALCO IN THE WINGS AS RUSAL STUMBLES

By John Helmer in Moscow

In some cultures it is considered entertaining sport for a crowd to watch roosters tear each other to death with specially-fitted steel talons. In other cultures, the crowd prefers to watch a man in fancy-dress stab a bull that has been specially bred to do nothing unpredictable with its horns. In yet others, the crowd pays to watch naked women wrestling in mud.

For entertainment, the debt throes of Oleg Deripaska’s United Company Rusal and his Moscow holding, Basic Element, combine all three, though Deripaska himself remains about as transparent as the mud wrestlers.

That’s one of the reasons the Russian government made a little-noticed but unprecedented announcement late on Friday. For the first time, Deripaska’s aluminum empire is to be investigated by auditors from the Accounting Chamber, as the Russian state auditor is known. For years, the Moscow-based chamber, headed by former prime minister Sergei Stepashin, has tried to investigate the multi-billion dollar cashflows generated by Rusal, mostly by export trading schemes employing dozens of companies around the world.
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EVRAZ CUTS STEEL OUTPUT AS OFFSHORE HAVEN STRATEGY DRIVES SHARE PRICE DOWN

By John Helmer in Moscow

Leading Russian steel producer Evraz revealed its financial crisis management plan in Moscow on Thursday, although it claimed it will try to avoid cutting domestic jobs.

Evraz said it will cut output for the second half of this year by 25%, compared to to the first half, in Russia and Ukraine. In a press briefing, details of which have not been posted on the Evraz website, Pavel Tatyanin, a senior executive, said Zapsib had halted one of its three blast furnaces this week, and working hours are being reduced at other Evraz mills in Russia. No change in output or jobs is planned for North America, Europe, or South Africa, where steelworkers’ unions are more powerful than in Russia.

Tatyanin also said that capital expenditure by the group would be reduced this year from a planned $1.5 billion to $1 billion, and projects worth another $1.8 billion may be postponed. Next year’s capex may be slashed to $400 million — about one-third of the planned level. The De Long acquisition in China — costing an estimated $754 million — is to be delayed.
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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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