TO LIFT, OR NOT TO LIFT – WHO GAINS, THAT IS THE QUESTION, BUT ONE THING FOR SURE – IT ISN’T GLENCORE

By John Helmer, Moscow

On Wednesday, the Russian Grain Union, representing most of the country’s grain traders and exporters, said that if the export embargo on grain is extended from July 1 to the year’s end, the expanding surpluses of grain in the southwestern growing regions will force domestic prices down to the Rb3,000 ($107) per tonne level, too low to be profitable for growers and traders, and risking a $3.3 billion loss of trade earnings in the coming season.
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MEDVEDEV ON THE AFTERLIFE – THE FOURTH CIRCLE OF HELL, FROM PUTIN’S INFERNO

By John Helmer, Moscow

On April 25, President Dmitry Medvedev appeared for an interview on the Moscow internet television channel Dozhd (“Rain”). According to the chief interviewer, Natalya Sindeyeva, the advance work by the president’s staff did not include either request or discussion of what questions the president would be asked. Perhaps there should have been, for Medvedev was asked what he would do after the election. Here is how he replied:
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WHAT PUTIN SAID BETWEEN THE LINES TO THE OLIGARCHS

Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,

As you know, yesterday I delivered a report on the government’s performance in the State Duma. I spoke not only about our performance, however; in point of fact, I spoke about the results of our common endeavour because the government only organises the work of the social sectors and the economy, while the real work is done in the real economy. The people who ensure our achievements are sitting before me now, so it was largely a report on our joint efforts. I spoke not only about what we accomplished last year but also about some plans for the future.
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BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, SO VICTOR RASHNIKOV ISN’T REALLY DOING IT TO MAGNITOGORSK

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oligarchs aren’t elephants who go somewhere secret when their time is up. There’s no fabulous, ivory-rich boneyard for them.

So when Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), the legendary Siberian steelmill owned by Victor Rashnikov, announced yesterday that there are two candidates for his position as chief executive, it doesn’t mean that Rashnikov is leaving the company. If he were really leaving, that would mean that MMK is up for sale. It isn’t.
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NOONE WILL BUY THE POOR OLIGARCH’S FLOWERS — USMANOV MAKES IT OFFICIAL: HE CAN’T SELL METALLOINVEST SHARES ON THE OPEN MARKET

By John Helmer, Moscow

Indirectly but without ambiguity, Alisher Usmanov acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday, in a Moscow newspaper he owns, that he has failed to sell shares in his principal asset, the Metalloinvest iron-ore mining and steelmaking group, to anyone. His recourse, he also made clear, is to hold hands with Oleg Deripaska in a combined effort to compel Norilsk Nickel and its controlling shareholders, the Kremlin and Vladimir Potanin, to buy him out, and exchange Metalloinvest shares for Norilsk Nickel shares – at a premium valuation noone has agreed to give Usmanov in his years of trying.
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CARNIVAL MASQUERADE COMES AFTER EASTER THIS YEAR FOR THE ALROSA BOARD

By John Helmer, Moscow

The long-serving chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alrosa, the state diamond mining monopoly, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin(background image), has announced he will step down at the next Alrosa shareholder meeting scheduled for June 30. Kudrin’s exit from the board has been ordered by a presidential decree, issued on April 2, requiring senior Russian ministers to vacate their seats on state-owned company boards.
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DUDLEY DO-RIGHT COMES TO MOSCOW – STEPS ON MAXIM FINSKY’S PLOT

By John Helmer, Moscow

The three greatest Canadians of all time are Glenn Gould, Pierre Trudeau, and Dudley Do-Right. A poll of Canadian businessmen in Moscow recently recommended Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr to displace the first two. The Canadian Broadcasting Commission nationwide poll of 2004 put Tommy Douglas and Terry Fox at the top. Then too, Gordon Lightfoot (“If You Could Read My Mind”) was at no. 33 and Leonard Cohen (“Bird on the Wire”) at No. 46.
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SWEETS FOR MY SWEET, SUGAR FOR MY HONEY – VADIM MOSHKOVICH HELPS HIMSELF – IS RUSAGRO FAIRY FLOSS OR DROSS?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Vadim Moshkovich – Senator from Belgorod, owner of Rusagro (aka Ros Agro Plc), which sold its shares in London last week — has been singing this golden oldie from The Searchers (1963). Don’t miss the last chorus line: “I’ll never ever let you go…Oooooo, Oooooo, Ooooo” Rusagro was 94% owned by Moshkovich until the initial public offering (IPO) which was implemented in London last week; his wife, Natalia Bykovskaya, owns another 1%, both of them through Shiny, a British Virgin Islands-registered company. Vadim Basov, their employee and chief executive of Rusagro, owns 5%. Basov bought his stake from Moshkovich a few days before the listing began, paying $15 million. He and Moshkovich thus valued their company at $300 million.
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THE IPOSTMAN NEVER RINGS TWICE – AT LEAST NOT FOR ALEXANDER MAMUT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Euroset, the Russian mobile telephone company, failed at its attempt at its initial public offering (IPO) in London this week. Officially, the company is struggling to absorb the punch, and is blaming the markets, not itself. “Despite the fact that in the investment community there was an increased interest in Euroset,” Euroset’s chief Alexander Malis told a Moscow newspaper, “we decided to postpone the IPO due to volatility in the markets”.
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THE DUDE ABIDES, THE DUD DOESN’T – GET THE NUMBERS HERE MORE SWIFTLY THAN THE FINANCIAL TIMES; IN ADDITION, HOW THE GAME ENDS

By John Helmer, Moscow

On Monday morning, we reported:

“Supposing Fridman has convinced Sechin to put the Deripaska squeeze on Dudley, the buy-out price to remove AAR from TNK-BP, allowing BP to proceed with its Rosneft deal, would add 50% to TNK-BP’s market cap – that’s an extra $25.7 billion. AAR’s half-share of the new valuation would come to $38.5 billion. That amounts to one-quarter of BP.”
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ALROSA LETS $611 MILLION CAT OUT OF THE BAG – WILL RIO TINTO FOOT THE BILL?

By John Helmer, Moscow

When it comes to transparency of corporate practice and accountability for the spending of state money, Alrosa, the Russian state diamond monopoly, isn’t famous.

But one thing is finally clear – Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has at long last gotten his wish to be relieved from having to serve as chairman of the board of directors (aka Supervisory Board) of the company. By the presidential order of April 2, Kudrin has been ordered to vacate the chairmanship of Alrosa by July 1.
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FIRST–EVER RUSSIAN HAT-TRICK – EVRAZ RULED TO HAVE ILLEGALLY RIGGED VANADIUM PRICES, AFTER BEING FOUND GUILTY OF RIGGING COKING COAL AND STEEL PRICES

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the game of cricket, nothing is rarer than a hat-trick. That is when the bowler for one side dismisses three batsmen for the opposing side in three successive balls. For the bowling side, it is a rare triumph, and almost never happens in international test games. For the batting side, it is one of the greatest of humiliations.

In Russia, cricket is almost unheard of, and up against the Russian oligarchic combines, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) rarely inflicts humiliation.
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CHINA LOVE STORY – OLEG DERIPASKA GIVEN BEIJING’S COLD SHOULDER, BUT MAYBE IN TIME IT WILL TURN LUKEWARM

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s nearly time for the peonies to bloom in China. But not for Oleg Deripaska’s plantings, at least not this season.

According to sources at Deripaska’s electricity company, Eurosibenergo, the Chinese government has so far refused to approve the investment of state-controlled funds by China Yangtze Power Company (CYPC) in Eurosibenergo, and thereby guarantee its initial public share offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Accordingly, the Eurosibenergo is off for the second time in four months.
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CHINA INC. TIRES OF ARM-TWISTING – TRIES A NEW TRICK THAT CHALLENGES THE RULES OF THE MANGANESE GAME

By John Helmer, Moscow

One man’s poison is another man’s meat – so long as he chews carefully and doesn’t swallow.

What’s been bad for Japan’s steel industry has accordingly been not so bad — you might say good — for the China market, and those who supply it with what it must have — iron-ore, coking coal, ferrous scrap, nickel, and manganese. These are the primary ingredients of steelmaking. Russian exports them, so does Australia.
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



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.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



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.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

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.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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 bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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