THE LONG ARM OF US LAW GETS SHORTER – ANOTHER DOLLY SAFE IN VICTOR’S ARM

By John Helmer in Moscow

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York) decided yesterday that the US racketeering statute can reach Russian wrongdoers only if their deeds are done on American territory. Running the loot, laundering, or spending it through US banks and bank accounts, or on American real estate and other haven assets, isn’t enough to allow jurisdiction, the 3-judge panel has decided, following the precedent of a new Supreme Court ruling issued early this year.
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EVRAZ KEEPS ITS TAR BABY — CANCELS SALE OF US VANADIUM UNIT STRATCOR

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian steelmaking group Evraz announced today that it has cancelled the sale of its Connecticut-based vanadium producer, Strategic Minerals Corporation (Stratcor). Without giving a reason, the announcement says the company “notes the recent publications regarding the possible sale of…Stratcor…Following a comprehensive analysis of Evraz’s strategic options in relation to its US vanadium subsidiary Stratcor, Evraz has terminated negotiations regarding the possible divestment.”
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LONDON REGULATOR BANS THE TWO BLOOMBERG PEOPLE FROM GETTING TOO FAMILIAR WITH THE MATTER

By John Helmer in Moscow

One of the lucrative carry trades is about to be chopped.

A new report by the UK market regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has warned that it intends to crack down on links between companies preparing share market sales and financial media reporters and columnists, the effect of which, according to the FSA, has been to unlawfully hype share price and make money on the sly. In short, market abuse by insiders and their media accomplices.
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ALADDIN’S CAVE WILL SHORTLY BE OPEN — YAKUTS AGREE TO ALROSA SHARE RESTRUCTURING AND PRIVATIZATION, ON CONDITION THEY GET TO RUB THE MAGIC LAMP WHEN THEY WANT

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Sakha government has agreed to a reorganization of the Alrosa shareholding, legalizing open-market trading of Alrosa shares for the first time, and promising a privatization of state-owned shares soon.
The Yakuts will not agree, however, to privatizing more than 20% to 25% of Alrosa shares; the federal government and Alrosa chief executive, Fyodor Andreyev, have been wanting to sell up to 49%.
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SERGEI FRANK’S COMMISSIONS TAKE A HIGH JUMP – SOVCOMFLOT FINANCIAL REPORT REVEALS 51% INCREASE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Sovcomflot, the Russian state-owned tanker group, reports that, despite rising revenues of $678.6 million in the first six months of this year — up 11% over the same period of 2009 — earnings have fallen 4% to $292.6 million; and net income has dropped 5% to $111.2 million. Revenues rose in part because the company has added 11 vessels to its operating fleet, with a total now of 10.5 million deadweight tonnes, making an increase of 13% in fleet tonnage. The fleet gains include four new Suezmax oil tankers and one ice-class shuttle tanker for operations in the Arctic.
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SACRE-COEUR IS A MAGIC MULTIPLIER – WHY MORDASHOV PAID AN 88% PREMIUM FOR A JUNIOR GOLDMINER THAT IS CURRENTLY PRODUCING LOSSES, NOT GOLD

By John Helmer in Moscow

Sacre-Coeur Minerals (SCM) is a small Toronto-listed goldminer prospecting the malarial swamps of Guyana (South America), so far without striking El Dorado.

The company is so small, its website doesn’t publish financial reports. But the required filings with the stock exchange indicate that it is producing no gold; its operating expenses exceed its income; it paid out more in compensation last year to its Canada-based employees and consultants than to its Guyana prospecting organization; and it has obligations to share, warrant and options holders amounting to C$40.8 million.
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SHORT HISTORIES, TALL TALES, AND THE RUMPELKSTILTSKIN EFFECT — HONG KONG EXCHANGE ALLOWS PAVEL MASLOVSKY, PETER HAMBRO AND THEIR SONS TO LIST IRC WITHOUT DISCLOSING BANKRUPTCY RECORD

By John Helmer in Moscow

Rumpelstiltskin is one of the nastier dwarves in the canon of scary children’s stories. But for investors in goldmining, it is worth remembering that his investment in gold production proved to be pretty successful until he got careless when talking to himself, and revealed his name.
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HONG KONG STOCK EXCHANGE FAILS THE TRANSCONTAINER CRASH TEXT – RUSSIAN STATE GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO LONDON INSTEAD

By John Helmer in Moscow

Transcontainer, the state-owned Russian Railways box transport company, has revealed that it will not list shares in its initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The announcement confirms that for state-owned shares, the Kremlin sees little value, and considerable risk, in associating with the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEx). The Transcontainer IPO plan, which is being managed by JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, also reveals that in the investment markets for Russian shares, Hong Kong is regarded as the market of last resort for Russian companies unable to meet the disclosure requirements, governance tests, and investor risks that prevail in London, New York, Paris, and Frankfurt.
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SOS – NEW US LAW PROTECTING JOURNALISTS FROM UK LIBEL THREATS TO BE ENACTED GLOBALLY

By John Helmer in Moscow

The US has responded with a powerful SOS for reporters, setting in motion a model for similar protections worldwide. SOS stands for Sod Off Schillings.

The new American legislation will make it impossible for practical purposes for Russians to attack American reporting of their activities by suing them or their newspapers in London. Russian businessmen who have made use of the London courts in this fashion include Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Alisher Usmanov, Roman Abramovich, Sergei Frank, Gennady Timchenko, Sergei Generalov, Alexander Lebedev, Nikolai Gluchkov, Boris Berezovsky, and Oleg Deripaska. The London-based law firm of Schillings has made a great deal of money issuing threats to stop publication of investigations of the likes of them.
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SPIES, PYRAMIDS AND OTHER FANCIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TROUBLES PETROPAVLOVSK APPEARS TO BE HAVING TO GET ITS SPINOFF LISTED IN HONG KONG

By John Helmer in Moscow

It hasn’t been a golden autumn for Peter Hambro (Petro) and Pavel Maslovsky (Pavlovsk) or their London Stock Exchange mining play, Petropavlovsk plc.

First, there was a problem with falling production – and falling share price. Then there was the refusal by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing committee to approve the application to spin off the iron-ore and titanium assets and sell shares of their new company called IRC Limited.
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EVRAZ TO SELL US VANADIUM PRODUCER STRATCOR — BUT THIS BABY MAY NOT BE GOING OUT WITH THE BATHWATER – THE RUBBER DUCK STAYS SILENT ON WHO GAINS, WHO LOSES IN THE DEAL

By John Helmer in Moscow

Evraz, the most heavily indebted of Russian steelmakers, is signaling that it is about to sell a US subsidiary producing the valuable steel alloy ingredient, vanadium. But the signs are that there is no intention on the part of the controlling shareholders of Evraz – Roman Abramovich, Eugene Shvidler, and Alexander Abramov – to toss the vanadium baby out with the bathwater. The idea apparently is to take the company off the Evraz books, making the profit and loss accounts look better for banks and share markets, but keeping control of the vanadium by selling the company to a shareholder – for the time being.
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VEKSELBERG IN COURT AND ON TRIAL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE

By John Helmer in Moscow

Victor Vekselberg, the chairman of the board of UC Rusal, went on trial in the Federal Penal Tribunal of Switzerland this week, charged with sharemarket violations, and facing a fine of 40 million Swiss francs ($40 million). That, according to the report of Le Temps today (see illustration), is the largest fine ever imposed by the Swiss authorities for stockmarket abuse.
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ENDEAVOUR SHIPS OUT – CREW GOLD SOLD TO MORDASHOV FOR A PROFIT OF $81 MILLION IN EIGHT MONTHS — BUT WHY DID NODDY PAY SO MUCH?

By John Helmer in Moscow

Endeavour Financial Corporation, a Cayman Island goldmine investment fund, announced on Monday that it has found buried treasure in a surprising place — in Alexei Mordashov’s pocket.

The fund, which is listed in Canada and controlled by Frank Giustra, has announced that it had sold out its 43% shareholding in Crew Gold — a junior goldminer with a sole producing mine in the west African republic of Guinea — for a cash payment of $215 million. Since Endeavour Financial had paid just $134.5 million when it started buying its stake in January, and then fought Mordashov for shareholding control in the company, Mordashov’s purchase has given Endeavour Financial a profit of $81.5 million in just eight months – a 124% rate of return on an annual basis.
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HAPPY 500TH FOR MOSCOW THE THIRD ROME – SUFFER THE LITTLE DOGS TO COME UNTO ME ON A LEASH AND MUZZLE

By John Helmer in Moscow

This is the year that makes five hundred since Filofei, a very clever monk of Pskov, wrote an appeal to the ambition of Vasily III, Grand Duke of Muscovy, letting him know that if he played his cards right with the Church, the Church would take care of him better than it had managed in faithless Constantinople. “Now two Romes have fallen, but the third stands, and the fourth there shall never be… No one will replace your Christian Tsardom”, Filofei wrote in either of three letters, or in all three, starting in 1510; or possibly in 1525; or possibly later.
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LUKOIL – WEST AFRICAN OIL OR MOSCOW TAX PLOY

By John Helmer in Moscow

An announcement last week by LUKoil’s number-2 executive and shareholder, Leonid Fedun (see image), that the Russian oil producer expects to find more crude oil in Africa than in Russia was intended to set off alarms bells at the Ministry of Finance in Moscow. That is where Fedun is negotiating for tax concessions for his company’s newly developed oilfields in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea and in western Siberia. Company sources admit there was nothing new about the African projects in what Fedun had to say. Whether the Finance Ministry intends to offer tax benefits to temper LUKoil’s African enthusiasm remains to be seen. And for the time being, West African spending represents a small fraction – maybe less than a tenth – of LUKoil’s global exploration budget.
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RETRO TV — FORWARD RUSSIA! FIGHT THE ZIGZAGGERS! WATCH THAT PRAM! CAPTAIN OBVIOUS, CROMWELL’S HEAD, AND THE FAT LADY OF NABUCCO SHRUNK TO SIZE!

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By John Helmer in Moscow

The Valdai International Discussion Club is a collection of journalists, academics and erstwhile opinion-makers from countries whose hostility towards the Kremlin has traditionally been a problem. Neutralizing that sentiment has been the principal reason the club’s annual autumn trip to Russia and talk-show with Vladimir Putin have been organized and paid for out of the state’s information budget.
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RUSAL AND BLOWBERG TRY SELLING CHINESE MCNUGGET BONDS AND A BIG MACPASKA

By John Helmer in Moscow

The promoters of United Company Rusal at Bloomberg have kicked off a new marketing campaign for Oleg Deripaska’s heavily indebted aluminium company, disclosing this week that “Rusal is planning Russia’s first offering of bonds in China, spurred by McDonald’s Corp.’s debut sale in yuan.” A roadshow to test whether the Chinese taste for McDonald’s will carry over to an appetite for Deripaska risk products is planned with investors and banks in about a fortnight’s time. Yuriy Humber, Bloomberg’s ace reporter on Rusal’s affairs, found a source in Frankfurt, Germany, who says: “For Hong Kong-based investors, this issue will be a great diversification play with significant yield pick-up compared to the majority of local bonds.”
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CONSOLATION PRIZE FOR OUSTED OLIGARCH — RYBOLOVLEV GETS HIS AIRFORCE BACK FOR $130 MILLION

By John Helmer in Moscow

Even in ignominy or retirement, a big boy’s toys are worth playing with.

Uralkali is Russia’s dominant producer of potash fertilizer and will soon merge with Silvinit to become the national potash champion, according to a government scheme first reported here on June 15. At the time, the head of investor relations for Uralkali, Anna Batarina, called this report disreputable nonsense.
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PUTIN VISITS NORILSK NICKEL, HANDS OUT WARNINGS – DERIPASKA GETS A PUTDOWN

By John Helmer in Moscow

Oleg Deripaska is preparing a series of presentations to institutional investors next week in Boston and New York, chaperoned by one of his largest creditor banks, BNP Paribas. Rarely has so unconvincing a lamb been led to market by so well-known a wolf; or such an odd couple asked to be believed for the sincerity of their hand-holding.

The prospectus released by United Company Rusal to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on December 31 reveals that BNP Paribas’s affiliated banks are owed more than $415 million by Rusal; no other international bank appears to be owed a larger sum by Rusal than that.
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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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