MAXIM FINSKY’S NEW ADVENTURE – PULLING TEETH, EXTRACTING VALUE FROM THE TIGER

By John Helmer, Moscow

Are they real teeth in the tiger’s mouth, or are they falsies?

This is the question which shareholders of two Canadian-listed junior goldmining companies have been asking since the two companies, both apparently controlled by Russian mining entrepreneur Maxim Finsky (image), proposed an all-share merger on the basis of valuation of assets buried in the wilds of eastern Siberia.
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PSSST, WANNA SEE A BIG ONE, OR A LITTLE ONE? — EVRAZ PRICE-RIGGING EXPOSED FOR STEEL AND COKING COAL — INVESTIGATION ON EVRAZ PRICING FOR VANADIUM TO BE ANOUNCED ON APRIL 7

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia’s price watchdog, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), plans soon to impose a hefty fine on the Evraz group’s lead mill at Nizhne Tagil (NTMK) for rigging the prices of steel profiles or sections in violation of the law on competition and non-discriminatory pricing. Maxim Ovchinnikov, head of the FAS industry department, said the agency had completed its investigation and issued its ruling against Evraz last November, judging the company in violation of Article 10 of the Law on Protection of Competition “in setting and maintaining monopolistically high prices for Z sections of steel , grades 09G2S and 12G2FD.”
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WHEN THE CEMENT SHOE FITS, LET RUPERT WEAR IT – MURDOCH LOSES AN INNUENDO IN COURT TO ELENA BATURINA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Elena Baturina won an unusual battle against Rupert Murdoch’s journalism last week. It is yet another demonstration that when it comes to dispensing Russian justice, the London courts are the only ones who do.

The court case, decided by a three-judge panel of the UK Court of Appeal on March 23, concerns the meaning to be ascribed to the homes of the wealthy, in particular the house Murdoch’s men claimed to belong to Baturina, when apparently it didn’t, and they were wrong. The Court of Appeal has ruled that in this case, the mistake of fact also constitutes a case of innuendo whose defamatory meaning Baturina is now free to litigate against the Times.
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FRANKIE AND JOHNNY WERE SWEETHEARTS, WELL NOT EXACTLY

By John Helmer, Moscow

In bringing to a close yesterday six years of investigation and litigation, and more than $800 million worth claims by state shipping company Sovcomflot, Justice Andrew Smith of the UK High Court has issued two batches of rulings, totaling 478 pages of findings of fact and judgements of law. Together, they represent the most thorough due diligence ever attempted and published of a Russian state company, or of an international shipping company for that matter.
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MAN OVERBOARD AT SOVCOMFLOT – LONDON COURT CONDEMNS SERGEI FRANK AS DISHONEST FOR THE SECOND TIME, AWARDS SKARGA AND IZMAYLOV REPAYMENT OF COSTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

A second judgement of the UK High Court, issued this morning by Justice Andrew Smith, has condemned Sovcomflot and dismissed a second round of claims, which the state-owned Russian shipping company argued over three days of hearings last month.

The new ruling, issued in two parts, vindicates for the second time Dmitry Skarga, chief executive of Sovcomflot before he was ousted by Sergei Frank in 2004; and Tagir Izmailov, chief executive of Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship), who was forced out of his post by Frank, as Sovcomflot moved to take over Novoship in 2006.
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ALROSA BOSS REPORTS AFRICA MINE INVESTMENT AN “INCORRECT FASHION”

By John Helmer, Moscow

In his first extended interview since taking over Alrosa in July of 2009, chief executive Fyodor Andreyev said in a Moscow newspaper yesterday that Alrosa’s diamond investment strategy puts Russia first, Africa last.

According to Andreyev, his predecessors’ efforts to build new diamond mines in Angola and explore for diamonds in Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Botswana reflect “a kind of fascination with fashion [that] is not quite correct.” The money spent in Africa should have been spent in Russia, he suggested. “At this time we lacked the investment for projects in Arkhangelsk, we do not develop projects in Yakutia. Therefore, my position is — we must complete what we have to”, completing the transition to underground mining as the first priority.
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WORRIED ABOUT RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SAFETY? – CALL ROSATOM AND ASK VLADISLAV BOCHKOV WHETHER HE PLANS TO SAIL THE LOMONOSOV FLOATING REACTOR TO AVACHA BAY ANY TIME SOON

By John Helmer, Moscow

Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan early this month, Russian government safety checks of all operating and experimental reactors have triggered skepticism that the experimental floating nuclear reactor vessel, Academician Lomonosov (right image), will be commissioned shortly, then towed to the Sea of Okhotsk, off the Kamchatka peninsula. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced the order for the check of the 31 operational nuclear reactors, which produce about 22 gigawatts, or about 10% of Russia’s currently installed power capacity.
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RUSAL POT GOES TO LONDON COURT TO CALL THE NORNICK KETTLE BLACK – BRITISH JUDGE DISMISSES RUSAL APPLICATION

By John Helmer, Moscow

It is now one week since Rusal obliged Norilsk Nickel to call an extraordinary meeting of shareholders for a fresh round of voting on the Norilsk Nickel board . This is the third such vote; the first was at the regular annual shareholders meeting of Norilsk Nickel on June 28, last year; the second followed on October 21. There will be a fourth when the Norilsk Nickel shareholders return for their annual general meeting in another 12 weeks.
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HOG-TIED IN THE BAZAAR – RUSSIAN GRAIN TRADERS POINT THE FINGER AT EACH OTHER

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia’s grain traders have applied to Mother Nature (image centre) for help in deciding whether Russia’s weather this spring and summer will be so mild, sunny and also wet as to produce a bumper harvest , allowing exports to resume and Russia to retake its place as the third largest grain exporter in the world. That is to say, at least one of the powerful domestic traders — Aston Corporation of Rostov-on-Don, headed by Vadim Vikulov (image right )– believes it knows Mother Nature’s answer well enough to publicly accuse the Russian Grain Union, headed by Arkady Zlochensky (image left), of failing to lobby hard enough for the Kremlin’s export ban to be lifted before the due date of July 1.
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PRIVATIZING ROLEX – THE FAKE TELLS A TRUER TALE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russians have always appreciated a good strong watch, and until the collapse of the Soviet Union the domestic watch industry competed effectively against most foreign brands. But the past two decades have almost destroyed the value Russians themselves attribute to such domestic watch brand-names as Polyot and Vostok. The conspicuous display of foreign watch brand-names as an indicator of Russian power, success and wealth hasn’t helped.
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CASE OF ANGER, AVARICE, OR GLUTTONY – IS RASPASKAYA COAL THE LATEST SLICE IN THE RUSSIAN RESOURCE PIE TO BE REDIVIDED?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia’s largest coking coal producer independent of the major steel groups is for sale, as the two controlling shareholder groups — Gennady Kosovoy and Alexander Vagin, who run the management, and the Evraz group — have engaged investment banks to find a buyer for their combined 80% stake in the company. At least, this is the appearance of the story, after Kosovoy and Vagin announced their intention to sell just a few days after Evraz beat them to it, and following the former owner-managers’ declaration of their unwavering intention to remain precisely where they are.
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MEMO TO INVESTMENT FUND MANAGERS, BANK RISK COMMITTEES — RUSSIA, SAFE HAVEN FOR EMERGING MARKET FUNDS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Data: The latest report from Emerging Portfolio Fund Research (EPFR) of Boston shows that funds investing in Russian listed stocks reported net inflows for the week ending March 2. The total invested was $139 million. The last time I reported on the funds flow was a fortnight ago, when the Financial Times was misrepresenting the market sentiment towards the country and misreporting the financial performance of the oligarchs. While the latest inflow result is the smallest net inflow since the first week of January, it is still much better than the position in other emerging market (EM) country funds, all of which saw the negative outflows indicated in this tabulation prepared by Uralsib Bank today:
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LUKOIL’S CASH SMUGGLING SCHEME, ISRAEL SLUSH FUND – CHARGES SURFACE IN US COURT AGAINST CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER SERGEI KUKURA

By John Helmer, Moscow

LUKoil, Russia’s second oil producer and exporter, has been running an illegal cash smuggling scheme out of front companies in the US, and diverting millions of dollars into a slush fund through an Israeli front company, according to court papers filed in the US yesterday. The mastermind, the US documents allege, is Sergei Kukura, LUKoil’s chief financial officer (image).
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NOT A HAIRCUT, BUT AN AMPUTATION – MORDASHOV’S MISTAKE COSTS SEVERSTAL SHAREHOLDERS AN ARM AND A LEG

By John Helmer, Moscow

This is the tale of how one Russian’s ambition to be the biggest of his kind in the world, and create a safe haven for his wealth in another country, ended up costing public shareholders billions of dollars in equity and dividend losses; enriched a syndicate of international banks; and lost the Russian state treasury billions of dollars in tax deductions. Russian oligarchs don’t make mistakes — they simply pass on their costs.
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HIGH COURT HEARS $180 MILLION IN COST AND COMPENSATION CLAIMS AGAINST SOVCOMFLOT — DID JP MORGAN, DEUTSCHE BANK, AND VTB HIDE THE LIABILITY RISK FROM BOND BUYERS?

By John Helmer, Moscow

In a three-day hearing in the UK High Court, which wound up on Monday of this week, Russian state shipping company Sovcomflot faced cost, indemnity and compensation claims for an estimated $180 million, filed by Yury Nikitin, Dmitry Skarga (right image), and Tagir Izmailov. They were the three defendants in the six-year court battle waged in London by the Sovcomflot shipping group, its chief executive Sergei Frank (left image), and Sovcomflot’s successive board chairmen, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Chief of Staff of the President, Sergei Naryshkin.
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RED RICE IS GOOD FOR YOU – RUSSIA BECOMES A RICE EXPORTER FOR THE FIRST TIME

By John Helmer, Moscow

Want to throw rice at the bride and groom — Krasnodar will be glad to fill your order. For starting this January, Russia has become a net rice exporter for the first time in its history.

According to Alexander Korbut, spokesman for the Russian Grain Council, about 100,000 tonnes of short-grain rice have been shipped to Turkey. Grown in the southwestern Krasnodar region, on the verges of the Black Sea, Korbut told Fairplay: “The rice market is peculiar. Russia has just entered it, and a considerable period of time will be needed to confirm the principal consumers. The current situation on the market is favourable for Russia, but we don’t know how that will develop.”
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TRANSPORT CONCESSIONS UP FOR GRABS — GENERALOV ADMITS HE IS FACING OPPOSITION TO HIS TAKEOVER OF TRANSCONTAINER

By John Helmer, Moscow

Sergei Generalov, controlling shareholder of Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), lifted the lid yesterday off an intensifying contest among Russia’s transport moguls to redivide the state’s rail, box terminal and shipping concessions. These will be awarded before the presidential election in a year’s time by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.
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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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