SWISS AVALANCHE BEARS DOWN ON VEKSELBERG

By John Helmer in Moscow

Victor Chernomyrdin, one of the creators of Gazprom and Boris Yeltsin’s prime minister from 1992 to 1998, once famously said :“we wanted to do the best, but it came out as always”.

What the sly duffer meant was: “we tried to serve a better interest than our own, but only fools believe it.” That was what made Chernomyrdin famous, and also rich, in that benighted time.
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METHANE TOLERANCE IN RUSSIAN COALMINES — COURT AND MINE SAFETY AGENCY ORDER HALT AT EVRAZ COAL MINE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Evraz, Russia’s largest vertically integrated steel group, has been ordered by the federal mine safety agency Rostekhnadzor (RTN) and a Kemerovo court to stop production at the Esaulskaya mine, in the Kemerovo region, until inspectors have resolved reported methane problems. Esaulskaya is one of several mines in the wholly owned Evraz subsidiary, Yuzhkuzbassugol (YKU — “South Kuzbass Coal”).
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GENERALOV’S BACK TO THE WALL – FESCO SAYS IT ISN’T GOING TO BE PRESSED INTO SELLING OUT OF THE CONTAINER TERMINAL BUSINESS

By John Helmer in Moscow

A deteriorating personal relationship between chief shareholders, and growing financial pressures on loss-making Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), the Russian multimodal transportation leader, have led to a buyout offer for Fesco’s 50% stake in the National Container Company (NCC), which operates the First Container Terminal of St. Petersburg, the biggest box facility in Russia.

First Quantum, the controlling shareholder of NCC, has offered to pay Fesco $440 million for its stake. Industry sources have told Fairplay that Fesco paid $100 million less when it bought into NCC in 2007. In addition to the St. Petersburg terminal, NCC also owns and operates the NUTEP terminal in Novorossiysk; Ukrtranscontainer in Ilyichevsk, Ukraine; and Baltic Container Terminal, which is still in construction at Ust-Luga, on the Gulf of Finland.
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PUTTING A CORK IN IT — THE RUSSIAN WINE RIPOFF , OR WHAT A KREMLIN SOBRIETY POLICY WILL REALLY COST

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s anti-trust buster, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), has established a record of making much ado about little; and of regulating only those corners of the Russian market where no oligarch-sized interest is threatened – unless the threat is pre-authorized by the Kremlin’s running orders. But this week the agency announced there is one Russian trust it feels on safe ground challenging — Russia’s wine importers.
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SHOWDOWN – CAN KUDRIN TAKE BACK THE EAST SIBERIAN TAX BREAK FROM SECHIN AND TIMCHENKO?

By John Helmer in Moscow

Tax-free exports of crude oil from Kozmino, on the Sea of Japan — Russia’s newest oil tanker loading terminal — may be eliminated by April, after a showdown last Friday between the oil industry tsar, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, and the budget tsar, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. For the moment, Kudrin’s pocket derringer is given no chance of prevailing against Sechin’s six-shooter.
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THE BIG TEASE — MORDASHOV TRIES TO SELL A SENSITIVE PIECE OF HIMSELF BACK TO THE ITALIANS

By John Helmer in Moscow

Alexei Mordashov (left figure) has a special thing for the Italians. He’s been rewarded for it in a number of ways.

Last July, he was awarded the Order of Merit from the Italian Ambasador to Russia. The order, according to a Severstal release, is the highest award in Italy. It had been presented to the chief executive and controlling shareholder of Severstal, “for considerable services to the [Italian] nation in the fields of literature, arts, and economics, as well as for social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities.” Owning steelmills in Italy can require the philanthropic and humanitarian impulse, not to mention literary and artistic panache.

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TOLL NOTICE

Cutting-edge recognition machines – supplied by the Russian state corporation, Nanotechnologies, courtesy of chief executive Anatoly Chubais – report that one of the largest groups of readers of this site uses the Rusal company server to gain access and read the reports. If to these are counted Rusal’s civil litigation lawyer Bryan Cave and Rusal’s London libel lawfirm Schillings – the number of people charging Oleg Deripaska and his corporation for reading the materials is currently running into several hundreds each week, and costing many thousands of dollars and pounds per chargeable hour. The Dancing Bear welcomes this display of interest, and congratulates Rusal on its newfound capacity to pay its bills. Evasion of the toll is no laughing matter. Please note that an actor has been employed in this surveillance clip, and the number-plate has been masked, to protect the real driver and car-owner. The real number is y115AM (190).
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NOTICE OF INFORMATION ATTACK


 

If you have been having trouble loading this site, that’s because an attack was launched against the server on Thursday afternoon. After the repair, the site statistics show readers more than doubled. Also, a fake disinformation bio has been loaded on Wikipedia placed by three men with pseudonyms almost as transparent as the fake security credentials carried by the Alfa-Inform gang. The article — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Helmer_(journalist) – is full of errors revealing the work was created by someone without native command of the English language, without a clue on Russian affairs, and without familiarity with this website’s despatches. Readers are invited to guess who would spend so much money to make such a display of incontinence.

MADAME TUSSAUDS OPENS IN MOSCOW – 102 EXHIBITS NEVER SEEN BEFORE – BELIEVE IT OR NOT! YELTSIN BACK FROM THE DEAD



Tatiana Borisovna Yumasheva (aka Dyachenko) has been the politically active of the late President Boris Yeltsin’s two daughters. After shunning publication for years, preserving her privacy, her residence abroad, and her domestic political interests, Yumasheva began publishing a blog on December 3. New essays or comments appear every one or two days – altogether, 38 to date. Over the course of these despatches, Yumasheva explains her publishing intentions at length, but without precision. This has led to speculation that she is launching a public political career for herself. Since she talks about whether Russia is ready to vote for a woman as president, her target may be her father’s old post. For the time being, though, Yumasheva’s basic theme is to present herself as the political heir to Yeltsin’s reputation and votes. Critics of the two of them claim they are electoral liabilities now. But the Levada polling organization says it has never measured public opinion towards Yumasheva; the blog may be the first step towards building a poll rating. If not that, there is the possibility that Yumasheva is bringing Yeltsin back from the dead as the stalking-horse for someone very much alive. Who that might be isn’t clear, yet. But it isn’t likely to be President Dmitry Medvedev, and it is certainly not Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. For they are not only alive; they are making their pact with the Russian electorate without needing Yeltsin at all. Here are some excerpts from Yumasheva.

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ALROSA SENDS UP A TRIAL BALLOON TO BRING DOWN DEBT

By John Helmer in Moscow

The spokesman for Alrosa, the state-owned Russian diamond miner, Andrei Polyakov, has made a statement this week to reporters that Alrosa is considering spinning off three of its diamond mining units, and selling a minority shareholding in each at an initial public offering (IPO). According to a news agency, Polyakov said: “It’s easier to sell shares of separate mining units as ZAO Alrosa itself has some legal constraints. It currently has a legal form of closed joint stock company, which is not suitable for share sale.” The Moscow business daily Vedomosti has reported Polyakov as saying Alrosa “can place at stock exchanges the shares of the subsidiaries Alrosa-Nyurba, Alrosa- Africa, and Severalmaz.” No choice of stock exchange or volume of shares to be sold has been made, the newspaper reported.
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THE LONG AND SHORT HISTORY OF BRITISH BALLS

Two thousand years ago, in the northern reaches of what is today called Scotland, the Picts frightened the Romans by a combination of superior fighting tactics, lurid body painting, and the size of their genitals. Defeat the Romans they did, as this medieval illustration shows. They also forced the Emperor Hadrian into building, further south, his famously expensive Wall to keep the Picts from getting in, and taking Roman cattle out.
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MORE SNOW GAMES – WHO’S THAT ON THE SLOPES AT COURCHEVEL, AND WHAT’S IN THAT FRENCH LETTER?

By John Helmer in Moscow

Mikhail Prokhorov has been honoured, he has announced, by the apology of the French government.

The Sunday Times of London reported this month that “three years after his arrest in the ski resort of Courchevel on charges of pimping [January 9, 2007], Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man, has received an apology from the French authorities for embroiling him in one of the most ill-judged sex scandals of recent times….He was held in a Lyons jail for four days on charges of soliciting for prostitution. Furious at the ‘ludicrous accusations which damaged my reputation’ he launched a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against the French state and demanded an apology. It finally came last month during a meeting between French and Russian officials, presided over by prime ministers Vladimir Putin and Francois Fillon. Prokhorov said: ‘That puts an end to this affair. I said from day one that this case was groundless and am now satisfied with the explanations given to me’.”
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YELLOW PIRATE ALERT!

If you have received a recent communication from an English law firm or public relations enterprise, which you believe casts aspersions on John Helmer’s record, good name or professional reputation, you may have received a publication that is defamatory under the laws of England and actionable in the UK High Court for damages. Your letter, email, fax, tape, or digital record of a telephone conversation may be evidence of libel or slander. Send a copy to johnhelmer@johnhelmer.online, indicating whether you wish to remain anonymous, or a party to a claim against the sender and publisher. Unlock value! Truth is worth more than Shillings!
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ROLL OUT THE BARREL, AT A 50-CENT PREMIUM – GENNADY TIMCHENKO’S NEW EASTERN OIL TRADE STRATEGY

By John Helmer in Moscow

Gennady Timchenko, a powerful Russian businessman, was identified this week in Helsinki as behind International Petroleum Products (IPP), a small trader which won the first 100,000-tonne crude oil loading assignment at Kozmino, Russia’s new oil port on the Sea of Japan.

The news, which a Timchenko spokesman in London is at pains not to deny, reveals a shift in Timchenko’s oil trading geography from the western trades of recent years, into the Fareast and the Asian markets, possibly for the first time. Why Timchenko is trying to reduce Gunvor’s visibility in the oil flows out of Kozmino, and substitute the little known IPP instead, is not known. However, this is not the first of Timchenko’s many lawful and successful businesses which he has sought to keep from public view, even though publicly accessible records confirm the identities and the beneficial links.
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ANOTHER AMERICAN BIRD FOR THE RUSSIAN CHOPPER

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian Trade and Inspection Agency (Rospotrebnadzor) has initiated new chlorine limits for poultry processing, commencing this month. The effect will be to cut imports well below the quota levels announced last month, especially of US-produced chicken.

The new Russian chlorine limit is 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams per litre, which is also the potable water standard. The same regulation exists for the European Union (EU) produced poultry, so imports from the EU will not be damaged, an RPN source told Fairplay.
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SNOW GAMES FOR HIGH RIVER GOLD, BUT WHOSE HAND IS SNEGOUROCHKA HOLDING?

By John Helmer in Moscow

The share price of Canadian-listed, Russian-owned goldminer High River Gold (HRG:CN) has shot up by 65% since December 4, and last week hit 89 Canadian cents – its highest level since August of 2008. There has been no news to speak of, but there was a meeting, a month ago, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Does he have the Midas touch?

The Prime Ministry isn’t saying how much time metals and mining oligarch Alexei Mordashov, who controls HRG, spent with Putin when they met in the latter’s office on December 4. But Mordashov has made so many mistakes, incurred such debts, and lost so much money, since the two of them last met intimately in May of 2006, there was plenty to talk about. “Good. Let’s talk in more detail”, said Putin, the instant before the public transcript was cut off.
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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

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RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

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THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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KILLING IS CHEAPER — THE US ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WEAPONIZES TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, WHATSAPP, TELEGRAM

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.

The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory.  The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image).   McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.

Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

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MARIA YUDINA OUT OF THE DARK – THE RUSSIAN CLASSICAL PIANIST PLAYS AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.

In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.

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