PPP TO BUY VOTES — PROKHOROV’S PENITENCE PARTY PAYS THE CHINESE WAY

By John Helmer, Moscow

Mikhail Prokhorov’s last attempt but one to gather popularity among Russians was the idea that they should be compelled to work harder each hour and for up to 60 hours per week. That doesn’t sound like an election clincher anywhere in the known world, does it?.

Prokhorov’s last attempt but two was what he calls the “remodelling” of the term snob, to sell a social network site and magazine in Russia, and then to make the product international, or at least northeast American. The person who edits this product described its popularity this way: “something that fills the space between politics and movie reviews — sex, food, children, urban issues.” Launched last September, the product has reportedly won the advertising vote of Maserati, Christie’s art auction house, the New Yorker, and Lufthansa.
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PIGS GET WISE TO WOLFIE — DERIPASKA LOSES FEAR AND FAVOUR VALUE IN MONGOLIA, UKRAINE, RUSSIA TOO

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska has been losing ground to Russian rivals in Mongolia, and is facing unprecedented administrative sanctions in Ukraine and Russia. The commercial effect is to force upwards the cost line on his balance-sheets, squeezing the earnings from which he must pay his debts and shareholder dividends. The political effect is to undercut the perception that Deripaska and his allies are too tough to resist.
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THE POLYUS OLIGARCHS OUT OF THEIR DEPTH – SOUTH AFRICAN TO THE RESCUE

By John Helmer, Moscow

South African James Nieuwenhuys has taken over as chief operating officer of Moscow-based Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest goldminer. The mining company, owned in roughly equal parts by Mikhail Prokhorov and Suleiman Kerimov, has been unsuccessful in months of effort to find a major international mining company to partner, or to take over and buy the oligarchs out.
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HOLDING HANDS IN THE DARK — DERIPASKA’S BEST LIBYAN FRIEND ALSO HELPED WITH THE NORILSK NICKEL ATTACK

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska (right), the chief executive of United Company Rusal, not only persuaded Muammar Qaddafi and his son, Saif al-Qaddafi (left), to invest in Rusal shares to support the company’s listing in Hong Kong last year. It now appears the Libyans also bought a stake in Norilsk Nickel to assist Deripaska in his hostile takeover bid against Norilsk Nickel, which is controlled by Vladimir Potanin and the Russian government.
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ALROSA DROPS SOVIET-ERA SECRET AND RELEASES DIAMOND RESERVE FIGURE – BUT IT IS SMALLER THAN PREVIOUS ESTIMATES

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alrosa’s chief executive Fyodor Andreyev has announced that the state-owned diamond monopoly of Russia holds diamond reserves of 1.23 billion carats. Calculated according to the Russian mineral reserves classification, he said that 1.014 billion carats are proven, 211 million carats are probable.

The new numbers were mentioned in a briefing for Russian reporters, and are not an official statement of reserves. Two Moscow business newspapers reported what Andreyev said. Andreyev’s spokesman said this is the official release of the reserves.
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KERIMOV AND THE INDIAN LAUNDRYMAN – WHITER THAN WHITE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Suleiman Kerimov has applied to the Prosecutor-General in Moscow with a request for an investigation of allegations that he was at one time involved in money-moving operations of Hassan Ali Khan, an Indian hawaladar. Breaking the silence of his spokesmen at the Federation Council, where Kerimov is a senator representing his native Dagestan, and at the Moscow office of his Nafta Moskva holding, Kerimov’s New York spokesman, Eliot Lauer, has announced:
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MORDASHOV PLAYS LOWBALL AND RASPADSKAYA’S SHARE PRICE FALLS – SEVERSTAL FALLS TOO

By John Helmer, Moscow

It is quite legal to play lowball, the variant of poker in which the lowest value of the cards you hold in your hand wins over higher values in the hands of the other players. It is less legal in the retail market if a sale is offered at a lower price, and after buyers appear to make their commitments, the price is raised. That’s also called bait-and-switch.
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WE STOOD CORRECTED LAST TIME, NOW IT’S THE TURN OF THE FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER — IGOR SHUVALOV PLACES HIMSELF BACK ON THE PEDESTAL AT THE AMUSEMENT PARK

By John Helmer, Moscow

It was just five weeks ago that First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov was pledging his allegiance to President Dmitry Medvedev and his unswerving compliance with the April 2 presidential decree ordering ministers of state to vacate their seats on state company boards.

In Shuvalov’s case, he insisted that under no circumstances could he consider sitting down upon the seat proposed for him as chairman of the board of one of the most lucrative property deals in Moscow – the multi-billion redevelopment of the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh); this is now known for modern reasons as state-owned stockholding company (GAO), Vserossiyskiy Vystavochny Centr — VVC.
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GENERALOV SHOWS HOW TO CUT NOSE, SAVE FACE, FOR FESCO

By John Helmer, Moscow

Far Eastern Shipping Co (FESCO), the troubled Russian dry-cargo fleet and ports group owned by Sergei Generalov, broke even on its operations last year, according to international-standard accounts for 2010, just released in Moscow. But Generalov was unable to stop the rot in his fleet arm, and only by radical amputation has he managed to turn a profit on the bottom line.
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BEAR HIDES BEHIND HIS CLAWS – ZYUZIN ARRANGES $537 MILLION PURCHASE FOR MECHEL WITHOUT ADMITTING DEAL OR DEBT TO NEW YORK SHAREHOLDERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Over the weekend, Ukrainian reports indicated that the Donetsk steelmaking assets in Ukraine, which went into bankruptcy in 2009, have been bought by Russia’s Mechel group, owned by Igor Zyuzin. The deal cost is reported to have been $537 million, including assumption of debts.

Confirmation of the sale appears in publication last Thursday in Ukraine of the agenda for a shareholder meeting scheduled on June 6, at which a vote is proposed on a purchase by Psarko Investments Ltd from Daveze Ltd. for $537 million.
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FULLY FUNCTIONING AND OPERATIONAL – TEN OR SO NAÏVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EVIDENCE IN THE CASE OF THE CHAMBERMAID VERSUS DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN

By John Helmer, Moscow

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) often invoked its sovereign immunity to rape Russia’s governing institutions, including the Central Bank and the Supreme Soviet, in the years of collapse following the end of the Soviet Union. Michel Camdessus, a Frenchman, was the culprit then, instructed by the principal shareholders on the Fund board. It might even be said in exculpation of Camdessus that he was just following orders issued in the finale of the Cold War.
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THE GAMBIT — SEVERSTAL BUYS INTO ANOTHER IRON-ORE MINE PROJECT, BUT IS MORDASHOV REPEATING HIS NORD GOLD STRATEGY, PACKAGING ASSETS ON THE CHEAP, SELLING THEM DEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow

The comic book character known as the Gambit was kidnapped from the hospital where he was born and raised by a gang of thieves. He got his way with unusual powers, like kinetic energy and hypnosis. He was also famous for his skill at card-throwing and combat with a long stick. He was distrusted by his peers, but loved by the ladies. He ranks 65th on the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time.
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GLENCORE’S DISCLOSURES LEAVE RUSSIAN BUSINESS IN THE DARK, ESPECIALLY GLENCORE’S LOSSES

By John Helmer, Moscow

Despite the enormous publicity for Glencore’s initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange this month, and participation in the underwriting and book-running of the Russian state savings bank Sberbank, the massive Glencore prospectus says almost nothing about the trading company’s Russian business. And on the key question grain traders have been discussing for months – how many billions of dollars did Glencore lose last year after the Kremlin imposed an embargo on grain exports? – Glencore’s documents say nothing at all.
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GUINEAN PRESIDENT CONDE CLOSES DOOR ON DERIPASKA

By John Helmer, Moscow

After the report appearing yesterday on Rusal’s negotiations with the Government of Guinea was published, the following fresh information was communicated by a member of staff of President Alpha Conde, and confirmed by other Guinean sources.
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ITSKOV, DERIPASKA BOOTED BY GUINEAN MINISTERS — RUSAL TO FOLLOW RIO TINTO TO THE CONAKRY TREASURY — $860 MILLION COMPENSATION DEMAND FOLLOWS $700 MILLION RIO TINTO PAYMENT DEAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

In a series of preemptory dismissals, the head of global alumina operations for United Company Rusal, Yakov Itskov (left image), and his chief executive Oleg Deripaska (right image), have been ordered out of the rooms of Guinea’s two mining ministers, Mahmoud Thiam, and his successor, Mohammed Lamine Fofana, after the ministers told them they had insulted the Guinean government. A Kremlin salvage operation was then despatched to Conakry, the Guinean capital, headed by Russia’s mining minister Yury Trutnev. But that hasn’t stopped the new Guinean president Alpha Conde, ordering his negotiators to demand Rusal surrender half or more of its billion-dollar Dian-Dian bauxite concession, and pay $860 million in compensation for past tax and customs duties avoidance at its two other Guinean mines, Kindia and Friguia.
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THE TWO-DOLLAR TELL-ALL – THIS IS WHAT THE RUSSIANS ARE FIGHTING THE CHINESE FOR

By John Helmer, Moscow

When self-proclaimed strategic allies like Russia and China fail to see eye to eye, they do their best to mask their differences, issuing communiqués promising amicable solutions at the next round of negotiations, or the one after that. If Moscow and Beijing fall out, the cordiality dries up, and the mutual silence can be deafening. But not this time round. Just four months since the first Russian crude oil started pumping into Daqing, the northeastern Chinese oil town, the Russian pipeline company Transneft has charged the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) with violating their supply contract, and is threatening to open court proceedings in London.
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THE YANDEX FLOAT – IS RUSSIAN INTERNET COMMERCE FREE TO WAG ITS TAIL WITH THE MARKET OR THE MASTER?

By John Helmer, Moscow

If Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine and internet portal, tells potential share buyers and investors that it is at risk of a hostile takeover by a man like Alisher Usmanov, who owns a stake in the competing Mail.ru portal, then the charge is a serious one. And if to that, Yandex adds the warning that the president of the country may be behind a scheme to consolidate competing public companies like Yandex into a national search engine, then the initial public offering (IPO), launched last week on the US NASDAQ exchange, is a unique test of what otherwise may be called Russian modernization – and the price of betting on it.
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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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