PUTIN’S ATTACK ON EVRAZ OPENS PRICE CONTROL FLOODGATES

By John Helmer in Moscow

As Russian villagers used to say in olden times, when the tsar is kind, the wait to see him is long; when he is cruel, there is no delay at all.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s explicit attack on steel prices at the start of this week, and the commencement of a new antitrust investigation of price-rigging against the Evraz group, have opened the floodgates to a spate of complaints — by the state-owned car manufacturers against the flat-sheet mills, and by the oil companies against the pipemakers.
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HOW MANY MEN WILL SAVE THE FESCO BOAT FROM THE DEBT DOG — GENERALOV OBLIGED BY BANKS TO PAY UP

By John Helmer in Moscow

Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco, ticker FESH)), the Russian dry-cargo fleet operator, plans to make a public issue of new shares to pay down debt. A total of 659.6 million new shares will be issued, the Fesco spokesman Stanislav Vartanyan told Fairplay; this bloc of shares makes about 23% of the company’s present charter capital. Vartanyan denies the move signals that recently disclosed plans to sell a substantial stake in the company to a non-Russian strategic investor have not materialized. But a Fesco report to investors a month ago did not mention the public share sale as an option.
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SPANISH LAUNDRY — WHAT GOYA DIDN’T SHOW BEHIND THE SHEETS — MADRID JUDGE AND PROSECUTOR IN MOSCOW TO QUESTION OLEG DERIPASKA

By John Helmer in Moscow

For the first time in his career, Oleg Deripaska has faced questioning on his business practices and cashflows by a western judge in a criminal court proceeding. Spanish judge of the Audiencia Nacional, Fernando Andreu Merelles, and special prosecutor for corruption cases, José Grinda, were in Moscow on May 12 to interrogate Deripaska, according to their spokesman in Madrid. The spokesman added that their purpose was to “take statements from Deripaska for an offense of conspiracy and money laundering, as well.”
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FIRST THE TRUMPET FANFARE, NOW THE GONG – WHAT TUNE IS SECHIN PLAYING WITH BLACK SEA OIL

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russia’s energy chief, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, has disclosed that the Black Sea oil export plan he launched in Milan last October, with much applause from Turkish and Italian interests, is going nowhere fast – err, I mean, slow.

He was speaking on the sidelines of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Turkey on Wednesday. Without allowing direct questions from, or quotation by Russian reporters, Sechin reportedly said that a start on the new crude oil delivery route, including the cross-Turkey pipeline from Samsun, on the Black Sea, to Ceyhan, on the Aegean, will be delayed until 2015. In the oil business, five years into the future is a number equivalent to eternity — and for practical purposes, oblivion.
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TESTING THE RUSSIAN WELFARE STATE — WHO PROTECTS THE COALMINERS — SAFETY CLAIMS BY RASPADSKAYA DISPUTED

By John Helmer in Moscow

The question of who, if anyone, is protecting coalminers intensifies in public, following Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to the scene of the Raspadskaya mine disaster at Mezhdurechensk yesterday. The double explosion of methane in the Raspadskaya mine on the weekend has so far killed 52, with 38 still unaccounted for. Another 59 have been rescued, and are being treated for injuries.
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METHANE BLAST POST-MORTEM — COKING COAL SHORTAGE LOOMS, AS RASPADSKAYA TOLL RISES AND TULEYEV NOMINATED FOR HIS 4TH TERM AS KEMEROVO GOVERNOR

By John Helmer in Moscow

The death toll at the Raspadskaya Coal Company’s principal mine is 43 dead, 47 missing, and 7 in hospital in critical condition as of Tuesday morning, Moscow time.

The leading producer of coking coal in Russia suffered two methane explosions overnight between Saturday and Sunday. The first was late on Saturday evening, and the second about four hours later, during a rescue attempt. All 19 rescuers in the mine at the time of the second blast have been reported killed. Underground ventilation had been halted by the blast, diminishing the chances of survival for those who were trapped below surface. Airflow has reportedly been restored today, but the underground water level is rising.
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STRIKEFORCE STRIKES OUT IN HONG KONG – RUSSIAN MOLYBDENUM MINER FAILS SOVEREIGN TEST

By John Helmer in Moscow

Strikeforce Mining and Resources (SMR), a molybdenum miner owned by Oleg Deripaska, failed last week in its second try at attracting Chinese and Hong Kong market investors. The first try was in October 2008, when Morgan Stanley and the Bank of China were the arrangers. But that month, as Deripaska’s aluminium company Rusal and his Basic Element holding plummeted towards a series of loan defaults and debts totaling more than $20 billion, the SMR share sale was abandoned.
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MAY 9, 1945-2010 — LEST WE FORGET, AND HAVEN’T WE HEARD THAT NATO TUNE PLAYED BEFORE?

By John Helmer in Moscow

On April 12 NATO launched four large-scale war games in northern Europe.

A report by Rick Rozoff for the Media Monitors Network, “Relentless Global Drive: NATO on Six Continents in Seven Days”, published on April 22, documented the official announcements from several US and NATO command sources, and the British Broadcasting Command: http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/73658
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CAST ADRIFT — POSTSCRIPT TO THE RUSSIAN NAVY’S PIRATE OPERATION

A spokesman for the Investigative Committee, a special branch of the General Prosecutor’s office, said yesterday, after the news of the rescue had reached Moscow, that the surviving pirates would be taken to Russia and charged under the piracy article of the Russian Criminal Code — Part 3, Article 227. He and Russian Navy spokesmen then modified their announcement, indicating that Russian ministry officials were debating what to do with the pirates.
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HOT TO TROT — RUSSIAN STATE SHIPYARD HOLDING AIMS AT UKRAINE TAKEOVERS

By John Helmer in Moscow

The horse has special talents. One is fluency in several languages; another is a knack for stock market investment. In the rarely seen comedy, the hero inherits the horse from his parents, makes some bad acquisitions on the horse’s advice, but gets out of trouble at a horse-race.

Roman Trotsenko’s career has been more successful, and recently he has been seeing a lot of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They met on February 18, and then again on May 4.

For what happened at their first meeting, see: http://johnhelmer.online/?p=2919
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RUSSIAN NAVY GIVES SOMALI PIRATES WHAT-FOR

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian Navy announced Thursday morning that its anti-submarine destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov had successfully liberated the Novoship oil tanker, Moscow University; released its 23-man crew unharmed;and killed or captured the Somali pirates who had boarded the vessel yesterday 800 kms off the coast of Somalia. The tanker had been under way with a cargo of crude bound for China. The 86,000-tonnes of oil on board remains secure, without fire or spill.

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THE BELARUS CHOKEHOLD – TRANSNEFT’S TOKAREV SQUEEZES, LUKASHENKO TWISTS, TIMCHENKO GAINS

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Lithuanians tried it more than a decade ago. The Belarussians are trying it again – noone in Moscow believes it can be done. In fact, the Russians say it’s childish to try. When the Russian noose goes round your neck, they say, you either beg forgiveness, or you choke to death. If the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (left bubble) weren’t regarded more negatively than the Russian leadership in the Anglo-American press, there might be more geopolitical interest in what is happening – or more curiosity about who gains commercially.
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THE VANISHING – MYSTERY LADY AND MYSTERY LOCATION ENTER CASE OF PLAN AGAINST JOHN HELMER, AS POLICE DOSSIER IN COURT REVEALS EVIDENCE TAMPERING

The picture of an unknown woman has been included by the Moscow police in their evidence of the plan targeting John Helmer, which was carried out last December by Alfa Inform, a Moscow security company working for United Company Rusal.

The name of Rusal, identified as the client on the title page of the Alfa Inform document found by the police, has vanished. A new title page appears in the evidence on the basis of which the Moscow police have recommended closing their criminal investigation.
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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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