ONE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND BARACK OBAMA – OBAMA’S HOUSE IS DIVIDED, BUT IT HAS A BACKDOOR

By John Helmer in Moscow

On June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, the young Abraham Lincoln launched his campaign for a seat in the US Senate for Illinois, with a speech that became famous for these words: “In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” Lincoln was defeated in the election by the incumbent, Stephen Douglas.

According to anonymous government sources reported by the Wall Street Journal, in August and again in early October of this year, the Obama Administration has decided to allow Oleg Deripaska, the controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal and Russia’s most indebted man, to enter the US, without an approved visa and without public disclosure – at least until now. The US State Department appears from the newspaper report either to have been unaware of, or to have opposed, Deripaska’s entry, which has been barred twice; most recently since 2006. The following US organs reportedly favoured giving Deripaska what the newspaper calls a “limited-entry permit” – the FBI, the US Department of Homeland Security, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and General Motors.
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MAGIC! ALROSA CLAIMS COMMERCIAL SALE REVENUES ARE JUMPING, AND YEAR-END PROFIT WILL QUADRUPLE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Alrosa’s new management, headed by Fyodor Andreyev (right picture), has announced this month that, despite one of the worst years on record for global diamond demand, the Russian company expects to sell roughly the same dollar value of diamonds this year as last, and to earn a bottom-line profit as well.

The announcements of the projected financial results have been posted by dead-drop on wire services or internet sites. Andreyev has yet to answer direct questions from the industry media since he took over the company in July. His spokesman, Andrei Polyakov, does not respond to calls.
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GENGHIS JUNIOR MEETS HIS MATCH — KAZAKH MINING AND OIL PROJECTS SKIMMED BY KANGAROO LAWYERS

By John Helmer in Moscow

One celebration drink too many in Bar Vogue, in downtown Almaty, has turned out to leave a very bad taste for lawyers advising hard-rock mining and oil project start-ups in Kazakhstan.

In a 216-page judgement issued this month, after three years of litigation across half the globe, a group of Australian lawyers was found guilty of stealing clients from their employer, the Kazakhstan-based law firm of Michael Wilson (see left image) & Partners (MWP). The judge, Clifford Einstein, presiding in the New South Wales Supreme Court, ruled on October 6 that John Emmott, Robert Nicholls, and David Slater had conspired together to exploit their positions in MWP to breach their employment contracts and fiduciary duties to MWP by secretly creating a competing firm of their own, Temujin International, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
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KREMLIN MAKES CASH DEPOSIT IN DAVY JONES LOCKER — STATE BAILOUT FOR FESCO LESS THAN THIS YEAR’S LOSSES

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), owned and run by Sergei Generalov, Russia’s largest dry-shipping operator, is to receive a state guarantee for loan repayments of Rb1.5 billion ($52 million), and will apply this to a loan of Rb2.5 billion ($86 million), which is being finalized this month with state bank, VTB.

The decision to award the guarantee was made by a unit of the federal Ministry of Economic Development yesterday, and confirmed by Fesco and Moscow brokers. Separately, Fesco’s railway subsidiary, Transgarant, has received a Rb1.45 billion ($50 million) loan, also from VTB, secured by its railcar fleet. The publicly listed Fesco is the first in Russia’s shipping sector to get a public bailout from the Kremlin.
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THE LUMUMBA REPLAY — RUSSIAN MYSTERY FIGURE ENTERS GUINEA NEGOTIATIONS TO SAVE RUSAL, THREATEN CAMARA

By John Helmer in Moscow

A hitherto unknown Russian, believed to have intelligence connexions in Africa, has made contact with the Guinean government in a bid to save the Russian bauxite and alumina concessions in the country. The move, orchestrated in Paris this month, is the first indication to date of French moves afoot to intervene for regime change in the west African republic of Guinea — with methods and motives associated with the infamous murder of Congolese Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, in January 1961. Then, Belgian officials, backed by the CIA and a White House assasination order, did the deed, claiming justification from Soviet support of the popular nationalist figure. This time round, the Russian interests are causing a switch in sentiment.

Victor Alexeyevich Boyarkin (literally translated into English, the name means “belonging to the boyar”) was in Paris a few days ago, according to local sources, where he was introduced to Guinean Government officials as a close associate of Oleg Deripaska (see boyar figure to left), the chief executive and controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal. Boyarkin has an office and secretary at Rusal headquarters in Moscow, and company sources confirm that he heads a department there. During Deripaska’s visit to Paris to meet with French banks a few days ago, Boyarkin was seen with him, and was introduced as one of the company’s top troubleshooters.
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BULGAR V TURK — WARNING TO RUSSIA ON SECHIN’S OIL PIPELINE CHOICE

By John Helmer in Moscow

The new Economy and Energy Minister of Bulgaria, Traycho Traykov, has issued a warning to Moscow that if Russia intends to build a new cross-Turkey crude oil pipeline, running from Samsun on the Black Sea, to Ceyhan, on the Aegean, that will mean the cancellation of the long planned Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, crossing Bulgaria and Greece.
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HEY RICO! HEY MICKY! HEY VOVA! WHADDYA SAY?

By John Helmer in Moscow

It was ten years ago, almost to the day, that a lawyer from Philadelphia named Bruce Marks had a very smart idea.

If you are too small and weak, physically or legally, to recover money you unwisely entrusted to a big Russian crook, Marks recommended going to your nearest federal US District Court; and get the judge there to convict the bad guy of something that’s the crime of racketeering in the US, but regular biznes in Russia. And so, civil claims were born out of the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The first trial run by Marks was a 1999 lawsuit in New Jersey by Vyacheslav Bresht against a bunch of US investors, who had bought a rip-off scheme for the Russian titanium producer, Avisma-VSMPO. Rather than go to court and face disclosure of what they had done, they paid up.
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WATCH BILLY BUNTER’S ARSE, NOT HIS LIPS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Billy Bunter was a fictional schoolboy character well-known to British and colonial schoolboys of my generation. Like most of us, his eyes were bigger than his stomach. Unlike many, by the age of ten Bunter had grasped the concept of leverage — to feed himself he was always borrowing against the legendary postal order that was in the mail from his Pater. To assist in his cons, Billy was also a gifted ventriloquist, making voices appear to come from everywhere but himself. This was always amusing even though — maybe especially because — Bunter was usually caught out, and either caned by his school masters, or kicked by his classmates. (You can have a Russian empire if naughty boys get away with their japes, but not a British one.)
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SOVCOMFLOT ACCOUNTANT TESTIFIES AGAINST CHIEF EXECUTIVE FRANK

By John Helmer in Moscow

It’s either a comedy starring Pinocchio, or a tragedy ending in Seppuku.

According to Section 1 of Sovcomflot’s corporate code of governance — ratified by the company board in 2007, and posted on the company website — one of the principles is “prompt disclosure of complete and reliable information about the Company enabling informed decision-making by the shareholders and investors of the Company”. Another of the provisions in this section obliges company officeholders to ensure “compliance with ethical standards of business conduct.” By these standards, what is to be made of the public clash in a London courtroom last week over evidence of a relatively paltry sum of one million dollars that hasn’t managed to be identified in Sovcomflot’s accounts yet?
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BEATING ST. CYRIL’S RECORD OF THE 12 ANATHEMAS – RUSSIAN USE OF REPUTATION ASSAULT MEETS ITS MATCH

By John Helmer in Moscow

It’s not so surprising that religion tends to be humourless. Making people accept the impossible usually requires threats, not jokes.

There is no record that Jesus Christ ever laughed out loud. His idea of humour was sarcasm, and puns he lifted from fishermen and carpenters. But for overdoing seriousness, the early eastern patriarch, St Cyril of Alexandria (378-444 AD), takes the cake. He’s the fellow who sets the record for heaping more anathemas on a single target than anyone in Christian history.
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THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES WITH OLEG DERIPASKA WHAT IS TO BE DONE ABOUT CORRUPTION – MEDVEDEV REVEALS WHAT HE DOESN’T KNOW, OR DOESN’T THINK FIT TO MENTION

By John Helmer in Moscow

In Russia it is traditional for the tsar to invite the culpable to assist him in finding and punishing the culprits; or to bargain for scapegoats.

On Thursday last, October 15, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told the regular weekly session of government ministers that he has ordered the Prosecutor General to investigate corruption in the state bureaucracy.

On Wednesday of this week, October 21, President Dmitry Medvedev invited a group of Russia’s oligarchs and figures of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists to give him their thoughts on government action to deal with the economic crisis.
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SECHIN DIVIDES THE BLACK SEA — DRAMATIC TURKEY MOVE UPENDS RUSSIAN GEOPOLITICAL STRATEGY, UPSETS LUKOIL AND GAZPROM

By John Helmer in Moscow

Gazprom, Russia’s leading company, has told Fairplay that reports that Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin agreed this week with the Turkish government to reroute the South Stream gas pipeline on to Turkish territory do not mean that Gazprom has decided to lay a land segment of the pipeline in Turkey, and bypass Bulgaria altogether (for the route until this week, see map).
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THE ROBOT AND THE CANARY — SOVCOMFLOT FINANCE CHIEF FACES MORE MEMORY TRIALS IN LONDON COURT THIS WEEK

By John Helmer in Moscow

Unprecedented disclosure of the financial intimacies of world tanker leader, state-owned Sovcomflot, continues in the UK High Court in London as Igor Borisenko, the former chief financial officer and deputy CEO of Sovcomflot, returns to the witness stand today and tomorrow.

Borisenko has told the judge that, although he was in charge of Sovcomflot’s finances, he could not remember offers of sale and lease-back transactions with Sovcomflot vessels from Clarksons, Boeing Capital, and other sources, at a time when Sovcomflot’s new CEO, Dmitry Skarga, was struggling to repay a Soviet-era loan debt of $500 million . “Are you saying that there was no discussion at all around this time, that you are aware of, about whether sale and lease-back might be a source of finance?” asked Justice Andrew Smith. “I do not remember, my Lord, that this matter was discussed with me.”
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FLYING LESSONS FROM DMITRY PUMPYANSKY — YET ANOTHER CASE OF RUSSIAN STEELMILLS GENERATING PROFITS TO SUBSIDIZE LOSSMAKING HAVEN INVESTMENTS IN NORTH AMERICA

By John Helmer in Moscow

In the very small world of Russian steelmaking genius, Dmitry Pumpyansky (see right figure) has always been thought a bright bird at managing his pipemills, rather than for picking the right ones to buy, or the right price to pay. As the history books show, the acquisition of the Russian mills comprising the TMK alliance was due in the first place to tough measures by tough men from the Urals, with an altogether different skill set.

Pumpyansky’s big flight test was last year and now, as the full cost of his acquisition of pipemills in the US and Canada has become grimly clear. Just how grim is spelled out by Ernst & Young in unprecedented warnings attached to the TMK financial reports, which were released on Friday. As they read the results, the stock markets chopped 3% off TMK’s share price.
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WINDVANE OF THE WEEK – IGOR BORISENKO IS FEELING THE DRAFT FROM ALL DIRECTIONS

By John Helmer in Moscow

The key witness in the $800 million Sovcomflot (SCF) case against former CEO, Dmitry Skarga, and charterer Yury Nikitin, has contradicted a core claim by the company in his High Court testimony this week.

Igor Borisenko, SCF’s former chief financial officer, told the court he supported chartering of oil tankers to the shipping arm of the Kirishi refinery group, a company known as PNP, run by Yury Nikitin, before Skarga took over Sovcomflot in 2000, and afterwards as well. Borisenko was cross-examined about the written submission by Sovcomflot’s solicitor, Stuart Shepherd, that “Sovcomflot would not have done business with Mr Nikitin’s companies at all, had it not been for the bribes or other benefits provided by Mr Nikitin to Mr Skarga.” Borisenko told the court: “I think that Sovcomflot could charter vessels to PNP without bribes being paid.”
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TOP DOG IN RUSSIAN MEAT MARKET – CANADIANS GAIN BIGGER SLICE OF THE ACTION

By John Helmer in Moscow

If the North American Treaty Alliance (NATO) takes seriously the threat the members believe the Russian military poses for the Saakashvili regime in Georgia, or the equally jumpy rulers of the Baltic shore, it might think twice about putting more North American beef into the borsch and pelmeni that Russian tankmen and parachutists eat each day to keep up their protein levels.

US purveyors of New York sirloins and T-bone steaks may take comfort from the defence that most US beef has long been ousted from the Russian meat market; their only sales go to the elite restaurants and hotels of Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the Russian Army, USDA Prime goes only to the generals.

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Clarification

On October 6, Sergey Frank criticized John Helmer in testimony in the UK High Court, condemning, as he has done before, Helmer’s reporting of the affairs of the Sovcomflot shipping company, headed by Frank since 2004.

On October 12, the Foreign Press Centre of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation telephoned Helmer in Moscow with a request to meet the next day with Boris Shardakov and Oleg Churilov. Shardakov is head of the office of work with foreign correspondents.

On October 13, at 4 in the afternoon, Shardakov and Churilov told Helmer that a letter addressed by Sovcomflot to the Foreign Ministry had been received. It was signed by the spokesman for Frank, Andrei Kechashin.
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WHAT’S IN THE BASKET ISN’T UP FOR GRABS — GUINEA ON THE COUNTER-ATTACK AGAINST RESOURCE RAIDERS

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Guinean government in Conakry has decided not to despatch a Foreign Ministry delegation to Moscow for the time being, while it gives negotiators from Russia’s aluminium monopoly, United Company Rusal, the chance to discuss privatisation, tax and accountingclaims next week.

Guinean sources have told Business Day that a planned trip to Russia, agreed with the Russian Foreign Ministry for last week, has beenpostponed on Conakry’s initiative. The Guinean proposal to Rusal aims at a meeting next week in a European city. Rusal mines bauxite at Kindia, and holds the mining right for the undeveloped Dian-Dian bauxite deposit. The company lost its Friguia concession and the Friguia almina refinery after a privatisation process held in 2006 was ruled invalid by a Conakry court last month.
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CHINA FANTASIES, COMMERCIAL REALITIES – WHOSE ARMS ARE AROUND SUZIE WONG NOW, OR IS IT THE OTHER WAY ROUND?

By John Helmer in Moscow

One of the reasons for pornography is that it provides a low-cost alternative to the real thing. Not to mention the chance to fantasize immediately about a future pleasure that isn’t likely to materialize — or to be affordable if it does.

The announcement on Tuesday of Russia’s agreement in principle to supply up to 70 billion cubic metres per annum of natural gas by pipeline to China is like that. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin needs to show that his command of Russia’s energy concessions is capable of delivering cash into the counting-house. A UK High Court trial, also under way this month in London. of claims relating to the management of the state-owned oil shipping company Sovcomflot has exposed the lengths to which Sechin, other government officials, and commercial allies in oil trading, ports and tankers, have already gone for this cash. A damage assessment in Moscow of the disclosures in the London court has the potential to cause problems for Sechin, if on top of everything, the counting-house goes short.
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CHINESE CHECKERS OR WEI CHI, ANYONE? — PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR PUTIN IN CHINA TO DISCUSS STEEL AND COAL TIT FOR TAT

By John Helmer in Moscow

Chinese checkers may be the closest Russia’s metal oligarchs, Igor Zyuzin (right) and Vladimir Lisin (left), have come to understanding Chinese strategy. The problem is that the game is neither Chinese, nor checkers. It’s actually an American invention, dating from the 1880s. It is based on the simple tactic of jumping your pieces further and faster into your opponent’s goal, before he can do the same to yours. As developed 15 years ago, Russian asset raiding tactics in the metal and mining sector are not more sophisticated.

Wei Chi, on the other hand — also known as Go, in Japan — is said to have been created by the Emperor Shun around 2200 BC, to train the brains of his son and heir. The game has evolved such complex strategy over the board space that a novice cannot readily understand how his space has been surrounded without apparent capture; and in the champion games, who has won and how.
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THE MOST DANGEROUS PRESIDENT EVER

By John Helmer in Moscow

Vanity corrupts; pathological vanity corrupts pathologically. That’s when you cannot believe that others are capable of disbelieving you. An American president who is at that stage will contrive anything, including war, for his personal benefit.

For Obama to feel, as he said, “deeply humbled” when awakened by the Nobel Peace Prize telephone-call on Friday morning, you have to think that he and his intelligence agencies failed to know he was a candidate for the award, and did nothing to lobby the Norwegs against the two hundred or so other candidates. If true, he should have announced he was deeply blind-sided, deeply stupid. Then you have to accept that Obama believed from the start of the process that he deserved the award. If true, you can clinically measure the crack in the cerebellum between reality and judgement. And finally, you have to realize that Obama calculated the prize would be better for his polls than not. Given what is already known about Obama’s readiness to escalate at least one of the two losing wars he has yet to withdraw from, that last one is a piece of such cynicism he will put all of his warmongering predecessors in the shade. One-term predecessors, it might be added.
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A TALE OF TWO PRIVATISATIONS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Sovcomflot chief executive Sergey Frank (left, centre figure) testified in the UK High Court last week that as Russia’s Minister of Transport he opposed the privatisation and IPO sale of Sovcomflot shares, despite company board and other ministry approvals starting in 2002. Under cross-examination by counsel for former CEO Dmitry Skarga (right, left figure) and questioning by Justice Andrew Smith, Frank dismissed the share sale plan, which was intended to raise $300 million to buy new ice-class oil and LNG tankers to service the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 oil and gasfields. Implying this plan lacked “the proper price received and value”, he testified the government preferred to “sack the management and…find a better team to run the company.”

Frank denied that after losing his own ministry post, he fought against several ministers and Kremlin advisors backing the privatisation, until he was appointed CEO of the shipping company in Skarga’s place in late 2004. Asked if his takeover had been arranged by Igor Sechin (now deputy prime minister) and the oil trader Gennady Timchenko, who wanted to merge Sovcomflot with Novoship before selling shares, Frank said: “basically, my level of education giving me enough comfort to express my own vision of any issue, and that doesn’t need any support of people to say that.”
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THE MONEY BOAT COMES BACK IN FOR ABRAMOVICH — EVRAZ GETS $1.8 BILLION ROLLOVER ON STATE LOAN

By John Helmer in Moscow

The board of Vnesheconombank (VEB), the state bailout bank chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, agreed yesterday to extend for a year a $1.8 billion loan to the Evraz group, controlled by Roman Abramovich’s Millhouse holding.

The loan was first issued in mid-November 2008, and is the largest single government financing for the Russian steel sector since the global crisis began a year ago. It was sought to enable Evraz to repay foreign bank loans, which had been raised to pay for Evraz’s expansion abroad, primarily for purchase of steelmills in North America. At the time of last year’s VEB rescue, Evraz was the third most heavily indebted Russian company, with a total of $9.9 billion in net foreign debt outstanding. Only the two state-owned energy companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, were more heavily indebted abroad than Evraz.

Its short-term (6-12 month) debt at the time of the VEB loan was $4.2 billion; $2.1 billion was due and payable by December 31. Although it is a state institution funded by public money, VEB does not issue transaction or audited financial reports, not even in open form to the Russian parliament. Nor has VEB disclosed the terms by which it has secured loans to borrowers.
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FRANK ADMITS VOTING TO APPROVE SKARGA TRANSACTIONS – ATTACKS HELMER’S STATURE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Sergey Frank, the chief executive of state owned Sovcomflot (SCF), one of the top-5 tanker companies in the world, is now into his fourth straight day of cross-examination in the UK High Court for what is turning out to be an unexpectedly dramatic examination of the way high Kremlin officials have fought each other over the management of Russia’s oil shipping concession.
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MEDVEDEV TAKES POWER OVER MOUTH, HIS OWN

By John Helmer in Moscow

It took several shots over a thousand years before people who scribble for a living could get the jingle about their business quite right. Euripides tried it with: “The tongue is mightier than the blade”. To the modern ear that sounds a little on the sado-erotic side. Shakespeare had the phallic inspiration: “many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills”. The great Nap got into the right ballpark, but struck out with: “four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”

Then along came Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who arranged in 1839 for the lead in his play about Cardinal Richelieu to say: “the pen is mightier than the sword”. Even more forgotten than Bulwer-Lytton, though, is what the stageboard Richelieu says next: “Behold the arch-enchanters wand – itself a nothing! – but taking sorcery from the master-hand to paralyse the Caesars”.
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ALROSA DUMPS DIAMONDS ON GOKHRAN — IT’S CHILD’S PLAY SO FAR, BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

By John Helmer in Moscow

Alrosa appears to be selling all of its rough diamond production this year to the state stockpile agency, Gokhran, exceeding earlier estimates of the state budget funds previously allocated to sustain the state-owned company’s mining operations. Both Alrosa and Gokhran are under the control of Russia’s Finance Minister, Alexei Kudrin (pictured right).

According to a report by Interfax, in September Alrosa has sold Gokhran rough worth an estimated Rb20.4 billion ($669 million). For the 9-month period just ending, Interfax reports that Alrosa has sold a total of Rb32.5 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of diamonds to the state repository. Alrosa’s chief executive, Fyodor Andreyev (pictured left), and his spokesman, Alexei Polyakov, were unavailable to confirm the numbers, but a Gokhran source has confirmed their accuracy. Alrosa is not clarifying either its production target for the year, or its sales target.
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RUSSIAN AND SWISS PROSECUTORS ON TRIAL IN LONDON

By John Helmer

On July 31, the UK Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of High Court Justice Christopher Clarke that the administration of law in Russia is liable to be manipulated by powerful Russian businessmen and politically influential individuals pursuing vendettas for their financial gain. “Improper interference by State actors” was the phrase accepted by the three appeal court judges to refer to the behaviour of the Russian prosecutor-general, ministries of Interior and Justice, police, and courts.
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SOVCOMFLOT CEO TRIES TO SHIFT BLAME TO DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SHUVALOV, AS TANKER PLOT TAKES IN THE NAMES OF PUTIN, SECHIN, AND TIMCHENKO

By John Helmer

Sergey Frank, Sovcomflot’s chief executive, has testified in the High Court that he knew nothing about an illegal information- gathering operation, targeted against his rival and former CEO, Dmitry Skarga, but that the figure in charge, who is referred to in the court evidence, may have been Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, chairman of the SCF board until last year.

Frank and his company charge Skarga and SCF’s former chartering partner, Yury Nikitin, with fraudulent ship sale and lease-back transactions, and receiving kickbacks on hull sales and shipyard orders. The lawsuit was initiated almost four years ago, after Frank, a federal transport minister, had been dropped from the government, and appointed to the shipping company instead. Skarga was then moved by the Kremlin to the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, to be Senator for Volgograd.
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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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