Dodon was the power-mad, menopausal tsar in the opera, Zolotoi Petushok (Le Coq d’Or, Golden Cockerel), by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and he is making his comeback in St. Petersburg. This time the role is being played by Valery Gergiev (image), who usually keeps to the conductor’s podium in the orchestra pit, or in his office as the Mariiinsky Theatre’s administrative and artistic director. Never underestimate the ambition of leading lights of the Russian stage to play tsar, Stalin, or Dodon. (more…)
After weeks of fierce, behind the scenes campaigning for votes to boost Rusal’s takeover attempt against Norilsk Nickel, shareholders of the latter struck back at Monday’s Annual General Meeting, flooring Deripaska. Rusal has issued a statement promising a counter-attack at a proposed Extraordinary General Meeting of shareholders – if, within the 60 to 90-day interval before this can be held, Deripaska can rally enough votes to avoid another knock-down. (more…)
As Ronald Reagan used to say, when stumped for words in the presidential debate against then President Jimmy Carter: There you go again!
When the Russian owners and managers of High River Gold announce they are launching bankruptcy action in the Russian courts against Prognoz Silver LLC, you ought to ask what is the calculation by Alexei Mordashov, the controlling shareholder of HRG and its parent, Severstal Gold? Is he planning another hostile takeover, as he attempted unsuccessfully against HRG’s minority shareholders last year? Is the true value of the Prognoz deposit about to disappear into anonymous hands, before reappearing at a new valuation on the asset ledger of Severstal Gold, before it goes to IPO? (more…)
A new London investment company called Vallar is being floated by two men whose most recent claim to public trust is what they have done, or advised doing with Russian money — Nathaniel Rothschild with Oleg Deripaska’s company Rusal, and James Campbell as a director on the Evraz board — that’s Roman Abramovich’s money, along with Eugene Shvidler, and Alexander Abramov. (more…)
Never let it be doubted that sunshine comes out of the EBRD’s arse after all – along with $50 million.
According to a June 23 announcement from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) headquarters in London, the bank is proposing to lend the Joint Fruit Company (JFC), Russia’s dominant banana producer, shipper and distributor, $50 million. Pre-approval of the loan was given this week, and board approval is scheduled for July 20. (more…)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met yesterday at Novokuznetsk city, in the Kemerovo region, with families of miners who were killed at the May 8 explosions that destroyed the Raspadskaya coking-coal mine, one of Russia’s largest. In remarks published on the prime ministry website, Putin hinted that he holds Raspadskaya’s management and owners, which include the Evraz steel group and Roman Abramovich, responsible for inadequate safety measures at the mine; and also for a scheme of miner bonuses which encouraged safety violations leading to the two fatal methane detonations. (more…)
Even if you had all the kit you need – auditor’s green eyeshade, diamantaire’s magnifying loupe – it is not easy to find what is news in yesterday’s release of Alrosa’s financial report for 2009, audited according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. (more…)
Everyone who is watching the World Cup has his or her favourite moments of the competition. Depending on their national or other allegiances, many prefer to speak of extraordinary wins; the South African team’s defeat of France 2 to 1, for example. For me, it’s been the bravery of defence against all odds that is more inspiring — Greece against the repeated onslaught against goal by Argentina, to go down 0 to 2; and New Zealand holding Italy to a 1:1 draw. (more…)
A news agency report from Cairo yesterday, claiming the Egyptian health authorities have quarantined a new Russian grain shipment in port, has been disputed by the Russian inspection agency, and by grain shippers in Moscow, who are not sure whether the action signals a resumption of last year’s weevil wars for market share in Egypt’s lucrative wheat market. (more…)
President Dmitry Medvedev is lying when he claims that his modernization slogan, under which he is running for re-appointment by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, means free and fair competition; security for foreign investment; and private ownership in place of state control. I mean lying, as in lying on the fakir’s bed of nails. Medvedev knows that this location is a sensitive one. If he moves unpredictably, he risks Putin’s wrath, and the pain of many other pricks. (more…)
The Harmonics Vuvuzela for the season’s purest noise goes to Maxim Fedotov, who led the Moscow City Symphony Orchestra on June 16 in performances that included Ravel’s Bolero. Fedotov placed a snare drum at the front of the stage, and assigned the drummer the virtuoso noise-making part, obliging the rest of the sound-makers gathered behind him to compete to see who could be loudest. This display was sponsored by the embassies of Spain and the European Union. (more…)
Alrosa’s chief executive Fyodor Andreyev (right image) briefed Moscow investment banks last week on the company’s strategy in an attempt to raise demand for a domestic bond issue, to be followed by a eurobond issue in November. Alrosa’s target for the two issues is $1.84 billion. (more…)
In the milk business, sanctimoniousness can induce more nausea than salmonella.
President Dmitry Medvedev big-noted his re-election campaign with a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday with this seeming call for competition to stimulate economic growth. “No matter how many state-owned enterprises we might have,” Medvedev said, “modernisation will above all be achieved through the efforts of private business, and only in a competitive environment. The state’s job is to ensure a good business climate for Russian and foreign entrepreneurs, and a fair and honest competitive environment.” (more…)
Roughly one rouble in every three spent from the Russian state budget goes out the treasury door in the form of a procurement contract.
According to the statute which regulates this process – Federal Law No. 94-FZ, “On Procurement of Goods, Works and Services for State and Municipal Needs”, enacted in 2006 – the process may take the form of tenders, auctions, or open requests for quotations. What the last of these means in practice is that the procuring government agency sends requests for a price quote to selected contractors. According to the law, this method is restricted to procurements of relatively low value. A report by the Ministry of Economic Development in April of 2009 on the first years of the operation of the procurement law called it “one of the most radical reforms in the second half of the 2000s, which affected many government and private economic agents.” (more…)
It’s tough being the greatest legal reformer ever to occupy the Kremlin because none of the tsars who preceded Dmitry Medvedev had a university degree in jurisprudence. Mikhail Gorbachev might be considered a close runner, because he received his law degree from Moscow State University in 1955. But then Medvedev wouldn’t be the only one among Gorbachev’s successors to deny him the laurel, for fear of attracting the electoral doom he would share with Gorbachev, if he were more generous. (more…)
The dispute that has haunted Evraz’s operation of the Czech steelmill at Vitkovice since 2005 when the Russian group won a disputed privatization tender for the plant, has escalated this week into a threat of closure. It is the second time the Evraz management in Moscow has issued a closure warning in disputes this year outside Russia. The first was in the Ukraine over rivalry for railroad access between Evraz’s Sukha Balka iron-ore mine and Igor Kolomoisky’s Krivoi Rog Iron-Ore Combine (KZhRK) (see http://johnhelmer.online/?p=2680). (more…)
Moscow, 15 June 2010 – UC RUSAL (SEHK: 486, EuroNext: RUSAL/RUAL), the world’s largest aluminium producer, announces the visit of a UC RUSAL delegation headed by Oleg Deripaska, CEO of UC RUSAL, to Guinea. Within the framework of the visit the company and the government of the country reached several agreements. (more…)
Russia’s deputy prime minister in charge of ports and shipping, Igor Sechin (image of Paris, centre), told Fairplay today he believes the best replacement for the storm-damaged Sochi cargo port is Kavkaz, on the Kerch Strait. Sechin confirmed that last week in Turkey he had spoken in favour of a new cargo hub to service the Sochi Winter Olympics construction, which is planned to require a 6-million tonne annual volume through the port until 2014, when the Games will be held. Through a spokesman Sechin also told Fairplay he believes Sochi should continue to be developed as a passenger port, and that after the Olympics, the cargo facilities should be converted to a marina for luxury vessels. (more…)
Russian public companies are special, and public shareholders are the last to know. But when Suleiman Kerimov is engaged in a deal, you can be certain of knowing one thing — nothing is what it seems. The brokerages egging the market on today to buy Uralkali shares at a premium, on the ground that Kerimov has just done so, are misled. The controlling shareholder of Uralkali has just been obliged to sell at a discount. (more…)
Russian dockers at St Petersburg and Tuapse are threatening to strike unless the stevedore and port companies employing them accept inflation indexation of their salaries, which is provided by Russia’s labour law, but is not included in their current work contracts. The threat is aimed at Russia’s richest individual, the oligarch Vladimir Lisin (right image). (more…)
The treasure cave which the legendary Ali Baba found is not known to have had a back-door.
Otherwise, when it happened that Ali’s greedy brother Qassim forgot the ‘Open Sesame!’ for the entrance, he’d have been able to safely escape the arrival of the forty thieves. Instead, Qassim was discovered, and cut into four pieces. (more…)
On Thursday evening in Conakry, the capital of the west African republic of Guinea, presidential advisor Mamadou Conde was dismissed, after he was found to have been involved in a plan to sign over bauxite concession rights to the Russian aluminium monopoly Rusal, and arrange for acting Guinean President Sekouba Konate to endorse the scheme on this week’s planned Moscow trip. (more…)
Sergei Pugachev, the owner of Northern Shipyard and Baltic Plant, two leading St. Petersburg yards, is closing a deal to sell the properties to the state, following pressure from creditors on Pugachev’s holding, United Industrial Corporation (OPB), and its associated bank, International Industrial Bank (IIB). (more…)
A bold move by two of Russia’s largest companies to fly General Sékouba Konaté, the acting head of the Guinean state in Conakry, to a rendezvous at the Kremlin with President Dmitri Medvedev has failed after a blaze of publicity caused the general to get cold feet. (more…)
In cockfighting there is a hard and fast rule – if your bird won’t fight, no matter how hard you push it, you forfeit the contest, and bets on the other bird must be paid.
When it comes to fighting and hiding, Alexei Mordashov, the Russian steelmaker, appears to have been outwitted by the Ukrainians. The more he hides, the more the Ukrainians push him, the more he loses. This is the first time since the presidential election of January that the new Ukrainian government has beaten off a major Russian business figure, who has the backing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (more…)
The Moscow police disclosed this week that they have decided not to investigate Alfa-Inform, a Moscow security agency, after an individual describing himself as an employee of the company made a telephone threat to put John Helmer in a wheel-chair unless he removed documents relating to Alfa-Inform and Rusal from this website. (more…)
The Evraz steel group, the large Russian steel group owned by Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, is negotiating an undertaking to build a new steel rolling-mill in Kazakhstan, according to an announcement by the Kazakh deputy minister of industry, Berik Kamaliev. (more…)
Russian wheat exporters are increasingly confident of beating US wheat imports in the Egyptian import market after a new deal for 180,000 tonnes of Russian grain, priced at $178.50 per tonne, was announced this week in Cairo, and confirmed by grain trade sources in Moscow. The sale undercuts the US offer price by more than $10 per tonne. (more…)
O dear! Noddy can’t make the loop the loop. After his last adventure in the jungles of northeastern Guinea, Noddy found that he still owed so much money to his bankers, he wasn’t allowed to make big-ticket plane rides without their permission. (more…)
When two of Russia’s most reclusive oligarchs are publicly reported to be in a big shareholding transaction, rumour of which suddenly drives up the share price of the asset by 25%, the least that can suspected is that someone is manipulating the market for personal gain. So, when Suleiman Kerimov is reported to be in talks to buy all, or much of Dmitry Rybolovlev’s control stake in potash producer Uralkali, it is reasonable to suppose at least one of them is aiming to make a killing – to use a figure of speech. (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.