China has joined an English peer, a Bush Administration retiree, and a special Kremlin envoy in the attempt to persuade or pressure the Guinean Government into halting its court proceedings and fraud and tax audits of international mining companies, and restore concession rights, corruptly acquired, to Guinea’s resource treasure. At stake for China is access for Chinalco, the state-owned metals and mining company, to the Simandou iron-ore concession — one of the largest unmined reserves of iron-ore in the world. (more…)
Alexey Vasiliev, a Russian professor specializing in the history of Saudi Arabia, flew to the west African republic of Guinea last week in a bid to lobby the Guinean Prime Minister, Jean-Marie Dore, on behalf of United Company Rusal, the bauxite and alumina producer in Guinea. Rusal is the largest Russian company currently operating in Africa.
Vasiliev’s mission was also to make it appear that the Kremlin wants Guinea to take its teeth out of Rusal, whose mines and an alumina refinery in Guinea are under threat of licence revocation, and of a billion-dollar damages claim currently being prepared by Guinean government auditors and international experts. (more…)
In an unusual break with the traditional hold Russian steel companies like to keep on their domestic coking-coal sources, and secure the future expansion of their steel capacity with ample reserves, the Evraz group is reported to be considering the sale of two of its Kemerovo mines to global and regional rival, ArcelorMittal. If they are good mines, why is Evraz selling? And if they are bad ones, why is ArcelorMittal buying? ArcelorMittal, which initiated the industry reports of the asset deal, has firmly silenced the tongue that was wagging; Evraz refuses to open its mouth at all. (more…)
It’s fashionable in trade these days, especially when delicate consumer sensitivities are involved, to call a slaughter-house a meat-packing plant, as if what goes in the front-door can be made to seem as tasteful as what goes out the back. The German slogan, “Arbeit Macht Frei”, tried the technique on human beings. For the livestock concerned, the smell is always the giveaway.
In Russian business, it’s the prospectuses which release the tell-tale odour. What’s remarkable about this tell-tale prospectus is who is doing the telling – one of the largest and most powerful of Russian state companies, accompanied and advised by the state-controlled bank, VTB, pointing the finger at the Prosecutor-General. (more…)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tried sweet-talking the Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Jabr al-Thani, in Moscow this week on “closer coordination” between the world’s leading exporters of natural and liquefied gas (LNG). At stake are the growing deliveries of shipborne Qatari LNG to European ports, versus the shrinking deliveries of Russian natural gas to the same market, across land by pipeline.
Qatar more than doubled its shipments of LNG into the European market last year, to 15.9 billion cubic metres. Gazprom is estimated to have suffered a reduction of 19 bcm delivered to Europe in the same period; about half of that loss was made up by Qatar. (more…)
Visits by politicians to banana boats are almost unprecedented outside the tropical climes; no Russian prime minister has ever boarded one before. Almost as rare is it for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to favour a foreign-owned shipping enterprise when it is competing against a Russian enterprise owned, not only by a fellow St. Petersburger, but the oligarch in his sector.
So who gained, and why, from Putin’s presence aboard the Maersk Niamey in St. Petersburg port on Monday? (more…)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who also chairs the Russian bailout bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), asked Friday for the US Government to signal its support for at least two oligarch-owned Russian companies in the US.
The remark, which has taken State Department officials by surprise, mentioned Norilsk Nickel and steelmaker Severstal, whose controlling shareholders are Vladimir Potanin and Alexei Mordashov, respectively. But Putin is believed to be thinking also of two other, heavily indebted oligarch groups with American interests and US bank obligations — steelmaker Evraz, controlled by Roman Abramovich (left image), and Oleg Deripaska (right image), owner of United Company Rusal and the Basic Element automobile group. (more…)
In the first of a worldwide series of trials scheduled against JP Morgan Chase, the US-based banking colossus, a judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney decided last week that an attempt by JP Morgan to claim A$50.18 million (dollars are Australian unless noted) in fees was “capricious, unreasonable and unjust”. He also ruled that, before JP Morgan launched its lawsuit, the bank had received a $20 million payment for services rendered that was too much, with the balance to be refunded. (more…)
Russia’s dominant diamond miner, state-owned Alrosa, has grabbed the crown from De Beers as the world’s largest diamond producer – and most profitable one, too.
According to a press release, reporting what was said at the executive board meeting of Alrosa in Mirny, early this week, a draft annual report for last year was recommended for approval by the Supervisory Board, as Alrosa’s board of directors is known. Since the board has yet to meet and vote its approval, no report has been issued yet. However, the company release claims this report contains an aggregate diamond sales result for 2009 of $2,212.6 million. If this includes sales of polished, as well as rough, then it marks a decline of 5.3% on 2008. when Alrosa reports selling $157.6 million worth of polished, and $2,178.8 million of rough. (more…)
The US federal district court judge hearing the multi-billion dollar damage claim by Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) against LUKoil has been replaced this week in Colorado, after an ADC shareholder discovered that the judge, Christine Arguello, had once worked for a law firm which has been associated with LUKoil. (more…)
The chief executive of Russia’s pipeline company Transneft, Nikolay Tokarev (left), has told Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin that there is not enough Russian crude oil to make commercially feasible the proposed trans-Balkan pipeline to a new tanker terminal at Alexandroupoli. Tokarev’s opinion, conveyed privately last September, appears to have encouraged Sechin to announce the following month that he, Russia’s chief decision-maker for oil, gas and the energy sector, favours replacing the trans-Balkan pipeline route between Burgas, Bulgaria, and Alexandroupoli, Greece, in favour of a much bigger-capacity pipeline delivering Russian crude from the Turkish Black Sea port of Samsun, across land, to Ceyhan, the Turkish tanker terminal on the Aegean. (more…)
Banking sources in Moscow are reporting that the sale of the Lucchini assets of the Severstal group, controlled by Alexei Mordashov, is not imminent.
According to the sources, a precondition of the transaction is a refinancing or renegotiation of the terms of Lucchini’s current debts, estimated to be about €800 million. Severstal has confirmed it is discussing the Lucchini sale to several interested buyers, including Metinvest of the Ukraine. Tata Steel (India), Baosteel (China), Gruppo Riva (Italy), and ArcelorMittal (Euro-India) have also been reported as interested to bid. Baosteel, Metinvest and Gruppo Riva are viewed in Moscow as having the most free cash to spend to pay the Severstal asking price. (more…)
Alrosa has signed a series of three contracts worth a total of $490 million at current diamond values with three Indian cutters, traditionally Alrosa’s largest clients in India. But industry sources in Moscow say they are concerned to find out whether the announcement presages a much larger flow of Russian midsize rough to India, with less available to Russian cutters. (more…)
Sovcomflot, the global tanker group run by Sergei Frank (left) and Russian government officials, received a negative rating report from the Moody’s international rating agency this week, as proceedings in the company’s half-billion-dollar claim against the former management wind up in the UK High Court in London. According to Moody’s latest report, Sovcomflot’s outlook has been changed from stable to negative.
Closing submissions from lawyers for the shipping company and for Dmitry Skarga, the former CEO (right), and charterer Yury Nikitin, reach the High Court in London this week, and oral argument will be concluded by March 31. Justice Andrew Smith is expected to rule by July. If Sovcomflot loses, it may face an order to pay defendant costs and penalties of more than $50 million, plus legal costs of its own, which are believed to be even greater. (more…)
The Chelyabinsk prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into a lethal explosion this week at a coke battery of the Mechel group in Chelyabinsk. One worker at the battery was killed immediately, and three others are in serious condition in hospital after the blast, which occurred, according to a company statement, on Thursday morning, at coke shop number 2 of Mechel-Coke. A search by Emergency Ministry specialists continues today for others who may have been killed in the explosion, and remain unrecognizable in the rubble. (more…)
The state diamond stockpile agency, Gokhran, will not be purchasing as many Alrosa rough diamonds this year as had been expected and budgeted for, according to a brief statement by the Gokhran head, Vladimir Rybkin. But before Gokhran sells any of its new stocks, Rybkin said the state agency will have to re-value the Alrosa rough. (more…)
Two chickens were lying side by side in the refrigerator case of a Moscow shop in the Soviet year of 1988. One, American, was plump and cheerful; the other, Russian, was scrawny and sarcastic. “I’m so much fitter than you,” said the American to the Russian. “Well, at least I died of natural causes,” replied the Russian.
Not funny any more, and no more jokes like that. Today, if the American chicken is to be allowed into the Moscow shop, he will be obliged to pass a medical test which the local poultry has already passed with flying colours. Pigs, too. (more…)
On April 27, 1941, Konstantinos Koukidis was the Greek Evzone on flag-guard duty at the Acropolis, when the German invaders arrived. When a German officer ordered Koukidis to surrender, give up the Greek flag, and raise the German flag in its place, Koukidis took the Greek flag down, wrapped it around his body, and jumped from the Acropolis rock to his death.
In the junior goldmining business, hope springs eternal. So naturally it did, when GV Gold, the Irkutsk-based junior goldminer controlled by Sergei Dokuchayev, went before a recent Moscow miners’ beauty contest to announce a new share issue bid. Maxim Gorlachev, head of corporate development, told the Adam Smith Institute metals conference in Moscow that “an IPO is one of the options we are considering in order to fund growth.” The target for fund raising is $300 million, he said, in order to lift the volume of current gold produced from 111,000 troy ounces to four times that amount, 438,000 oz., in another four years. The shares might be listed and sold in Hong Kong, London, Moscow or Toronto, Gorlachev is also reported to have said. (more…)
Negotiations under way between Russian gas exporter Gazprom and Romania may result in a dramatic shift in the routing of the South Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea, and in current relations between the Russian and Bulgarian governments, Bulgarian officials have told Fairplay. (more…)
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 bilificationof society.
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.