ROTHSCHILD EXPOSES GOLDMINING DEAL FOR FAKE OR FEINT; DERIPASKA’S ATTEMPT TO SELL RUSAL TO ALCOA ALSO EXPOSED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Nathaniel Rothschild’s (centre) libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail and Associated Newspapers, due to commence on January 23 in the High Court in London, is now unravelling even more Russian oligarch secrets. As they crack open, so do suspicions of even more inexplicable involvement by Rothschild’s friend, Lord Peter Mandelson, than the lawsuit was intended to stop.

The point on which the entire tale hangs, at least for Rothschild, is that in January 2005, Mandelson was the European Union’s trade commissioner. The events reported by the newspaper in its initial publication, and now in new evidence before the court, suggest that Mandelson was involving himself in Russian business deals which he knew, or should have known, created the appearance of a conflict of interest with his official position.
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MIRACLE AT SEA – RUSSIAN SEAFARERS UNION REPELS BOARDING BY SHIPOWNERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russian labour unions have been crippled since the end of the Soviet Union. With the exception of the coalminers and the seafarers, they have been incapable of defending their members’ wages, terms of employment contracts, or work safety standards. This week the Seafarers Union of Russia – affiliated with the International Transport Workers Federation – scored an unusual victory which has left the shipowners and the federal transport officials who attempted to follow their lead, quite speechless.
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GORBACHEV RISES FROM THE DEAD TO OFFER HIMSELF FOR ELECTION ONE MORE TIME — RUSSIA TO THE DOGS AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Homer accords with the latest in canine science.

Because Odysseus raised his Argos as a pup from birth, the dog fixed on him as devotedly as he would, had his canine mother, or another human being, done the nurturing within the first ten weeks of the dog’s life. Odysseus, far too smug a character, thought the loyalty of Argos was his due, like everything and everyone else, gods included, on his destructive odyssey. And since he planned to murder everyone in the Ithaca palace who thought he had a chance to take the kingship, along with Penelope, wife and queen, he didn’t break his disguise to show Argos who he was. But the dog knew. He managed to prick up his ears and wag his tail, and then died.
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MIKHAIL FRIDMAN’S CLEVER ARBITRAGE – WHERE THERE ARE MOSCOW KIOSKS, THERE’S HOPE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Constructivism, that combination of industrial design ideas applied to post-revolutionary Russian urban growth requirements, has been struggling to survive the assault of commercial real estate development since 1991.

The current exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Art, entitled “Building the Revolution” reveals how many of the buildings of the Constructivist era in the 1920s, have deteriorated almost beyond repair. The show, with just three weeks left to run in London, won’t be coming to Russia. Also, it has yet to convince the guardians of Moscow’s architectural heritage to intervene to preserve what’s left of Constructivism as a home-grown approach to the cityscape.
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DMITRY RYBOLOVLEV FINDS THE CASH TO BUY THE MOST EXPENSIVE APARTMENT IN NEW YORK

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the interior designer trade, there is a standard known inside Russia and the world over as the vomit test.

The World of Interiors usually passes; Architectural Digest often fails. This isn’t what it sounds like – no disparagement intended of the design or designer as such. No Sirree. The test is simply whether the design portrayed is so crowded, with so many different and overlapping patterns, that if you vomited, noone would notice.
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THROWING IN THE SPONGE, SINKING IN HOT WATER — ROTHSCHILD AND THE DAILY MAIL REVEAL THERE WAS ANOTHER, EVEN MORE SECRET DEAL IN DISCUSSION WHEN ROTHSCHILD CARRIED LORD MANDELSON TO MEET OLEG DERIPASKA IN MOSCOW – THE ATTEMPTED TAKEOVER OF THE RUSSIAN GOLDMINER, POLYMETAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

After claims a week ago that the Daily Mail newspaper and its publisher were expecting to go to trial next month on a libel claim by Nathaniel Rothschild relating to the Russian aluminium business, it has now been revealed that Rothschild has exposed an even more secret business deal he was attempting to pull off with Oleg Deripaska, with hand-holding assistance from Lord Peter Mandelson. This one in Russian gold and silver-mining.
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LILLIPUT LAWSUIT – NATHANIEL ROTHSCHILD PUTS OLEG DERIPASKA ON TRIAL TO SAVE HIS OWN REPUTATION

By John Helmer, Moscow

Nathaniel Rothschild (right, pointing) has told the UK High Court that a London newspaper report claiming he had tried ingratiating himself with Oleg Deripaska (centre) was defamatory, and that as a result of the publication he had been “seriously damaged in his character and reputation and has suffered considerable distress, embarrassment and injury to his feelings”. A trial on the claims has been ordered to commence in the High Court next month. The defendant is Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail in London.

The Daily Mail report appeared on May 22, 2010. Rothschild, calling himself “a member of the well known Rothschild banking family [and] a financier with substantial international business interests”, filed suit on July 7, 2010. He gave his address as Riedweg 18, in Klosters, Switzerland.
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REGARDING CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Christopher Hitchens, who died on Thursday at 62 years of age, described me many years ago as “an old personal enemy of mine”.

Hitchens wore the inimical declarations of others as self-awarded Victoria Crosses, as if his bravado under the fire he inflicted deserved more than the money he was paid to pull the trigger. But Hitchens was sparing in the identification of others as his personal enemies. Search though I have through the back-indexes of his collected re-publications on London bookshop tables – buy one, get one free — the only other person Hitchens picked out in print as his personal enemy appears to have been Osama bin Laden. The reason Hitchens put the two of us on a par deserves brief record as Hitchens goes to his grave covered by encomiums from his accomplices in a career of duplicity and meretriciousness.
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PIGEON POST FOR THE OLIGARCHS – A MESSAGE FROM PUTIN TO ABRAMOVICH, BEREZOVSKY, DERIPASKA

Э.Мацкявичюс: Владимир Владимирович, есть вопрос, поступивший на сайт программы, он, отчасти, продолжает тему, поднятую Александром Андреевичем: “Читаю сообщение о суде в Лондоне и думаю, когда украденные у народа деньги перестанут обогащать Англию?” Я точно не поручусь, но, видимо, имеется в виду суд между Абрамовичем и Березовским. (more…)

PUTIN SAYS SOMETHING TO ANDREYEV — ALROSA SHARE SALE PROMOTION DEFLATES

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alrosa has been attempting to boost its share price, following the start to regular share trading on the Moscow MICEX exchange at the beginning of this month. On December 13, the company released a forecast for next year of rising mine volumes and higher revenues and profits.

But four days earlier, on December 9, Alrosa’s chief executive Fyodor Andreyev (image left) met Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for his first-ever solo session with the head of government (image right). While Putin meets from time to time with heads of the Sakha republic, where Alrosa’s mines are concentrated – the last of those was on January 18 of this year — Putin has not met one on one with a chief executive of the company since 2004. That was when he discussed moving the then chief executive, Vyacheslav Shtirov, from the company to the presidency of the Sakha republic.
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THE SALMON SEES RED – RUSSIA AND CHINA TELL NORWAY WHERE TO STICK ITS FISH

By John Helmer, Moscow

Shipments of Norwegian salmon and trout to Russia, the biggest global consumer of Norwegian fish, have been illegally restricted by the Russian government veterinary and phyto-sanitary inspectorate, Rosselkhozdnadzor (RSKN), according to a report by the government’s competition watchdog, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).

The FAS told Fairplay that regulations issued by RSKN limit imports of the fish to Russia to companies on lists accepted by the Norwegian government, and submitted for complementary approval by RSKN. This cumbersome administrative procedure is unlawful, according to the FAS, because it restricts free trade in the Russian market.
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ABRAMOV TRIES FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE, HIS OWN – RUSSIAN REGULATOR REJECTS EVRAZ MERGER WITH SEVERSTAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia’s competition watchdog believes that a merger between two of the country’s top steelmakers, Evraz and Severstal, is a “pipe dream”, and will veto it if it is attempted. The swift, explicit reaction from one of the Russian government’s top market regulators indicates there has been no preliminary signal from the Kremlin of backing for the merger, announced in a carefully contrived placement in the Financial Times of London yesterday.
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VLADIMIR ANTONOV PUTS THE UK GOVERNMENT IN A HOT SPOT – WHAT FUTURE IN MERRY ENGLAND FOR RUSSIAN ASSET STRIPPERS, MONEY LAUNDERERS?

By John Helmer, Moscow

While Boris Berezovsky, Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska are hard at work changing the British courts’ interpretation of the law on corruption, Vladimir Antonov has come along to challenge the British law on asylum and extradition.

Antonov, along with his Lithuanian partner Raimondas Baranauskas, were arrested in London on November 23, and charged in connexion with a Lithuanian extradition warrant. In Lithuania they are accused of embezzlement of several hundred million dollars from Bank Snoras, the bank they control in Lithuania, and the second largest in that country. The forensic auditors are reported to have found that Snoras’s books are short by $1.4 billion.
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THE GHOST AT THE MOSCOW TIMES

By John Helmer, Moscow

On November 29, following up Russian media reports and after an investigation lasting a week, the Moscow Times published the following article, which speaks for itself. A week later, on December 7, the newspaper’s editor, Andrew McChesney, sent this letter:
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BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD – BHP’S LATEST BLOW TO CHINA TO GALVANIZE THE MANGANESE MARKET

By John Helmer, Moscow

BHP Billiton (BHP), the world’s dominant producer of manganese, last week slashed the price of manganese for delivery to China, the world’s dominant consumer, by 14%, arousing the suspicion that the Big Australian is aiming to drive rival producers from the business, and when Chinese steelmaking is expected to revive next year, corner a larger share of the market. Ironically, the price action may also accelerate the exit of the Australian independent Consolidated Minerals from Australia, where costs are now close to the break-even level, towards African operations.
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RYBOLOVLEV IS ON THE BALL – ANOTHER FAILING FOOTBALL TEAM BUYS RUSSIAN REPUTE

By John Helmer, Moscow

After the episode of the Louis Vuitton fountain-pen given in San Francisco in friendship, not favour, Dmitry Rybolovlev (left) has redirected his generosity to another seaport, this time Monaco. There the welcome appears to have been decidedly warmer than he got in California, where Rybolovlev said he was thinking of investing ; or in Florida, where he’s said he was thinking of living. The weather is also warmer in Monaco than in Geneva, where there has been icy wind blowing at Rybolovlev from the cantonal divorce court, which has issued a freeze order over Rybolovlev’s worldwide assets , and a contempt of court threat against Swiss reporters for reporting the claims and counter-claims, and legal manoeuvering.
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HOW MANY STEPS FORWARD, HOW MANY BACK — HOW THE REVOLUTION IS PUT UP, PULLED DOWN

By John Helmer, Moscow

The relationship between taste and power is what Karl Marx would have called dialectical; for today’s Russian oligarchs that’s a red flag – in the race track, not the Marxist sense of the term.

The oligarchs don’t mind showing off their taste in foreign places and foreign newspapers; inside Russia they show a guarded respect for the Nicholas Fouquet example. He was the treasurer and prime minister of French King Louis XIV, whose royally paid-for rise to wealth was turned into a grand chateau near Paris , Vaux le Vicomte (image below). That was so richly ornamented and stocked – ostentatious in contemporary terms — that it made the king jealous, as well as fearful for his own treasury and power. So he packed Fouquet off to jail to serve as an example for his fellow courtiers and concessionaires for 19 years — the rest of Fouquet’s life. Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s education apparently didn’t stretch to that story of 17th century France. His stretch in prison might be long enough to read up.
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THIS SMELL OFFENDED EVEN THE SWISS BANKER’S NOSE – DERIPASKA AND ABRAMOVICH FIRED SWISS BANK AND LEBOEUF LAWFIRM AFTER MONEY-LAUNDERING EVIDENCE SURFACED IN RUSAL DEAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

When Oleg Deripaska was completing his takeover of Russian Aluminium (Rusal) by buying out his partner, Roman Abramovich, the two of them agreed to arrange legal advice on the transaction from one of the leading mergers and acquisitions lawyers in London. But after she began probing the deal on her suspicion of money-laundering, she was fired. When a Swiss bank began having similar suspicions and asking awkward questions, it too was removed from the deal.
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FACE DOWN IN THE SNOW – BRITISH WHODUNITS FIND THE WRONG CORPSE

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Financial Times, a London newspaper, recommends that under your Christmas tree you put a book called Snowdrops by A.D. Miller, who was the Moscow correspondent of The Economist between 2004 and 2007. According to the recommendation, “it’s a sinister, seductive read that paints a murky moral portrait of the new capitalist Russia.” That omits to say the book is fiction.

The FT also recommends you read a story called “A Realm Fit for a Tsar” by Catherine Belton, and illustrated with a picture of Vladimir Putin wearing reflecting sunglasses. Published on December 1, with tags “Analysis” at top right and “FT investigation” at top left, that too is fiction. Behind the shades it’s difficult to tell the novel from reality.
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UST-LUGA OIL TERMINAL DELAYED AGAIN – WHO IS MAKING A MONKEY OF GENNADY TIMCHENKO?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Monkeys throw their excrement at their enemies – this is well-known among zoologists. But it happens only when monkeys are caged, not in the wild. The reason for this is obvious — free-ranging monkeys instinctively run away from their shit as quickly as possible, to evade predators. But if they are in captivity, their shit is all they have handy against enemies who aren’t predatory. Shit-tossing is a kind of simian revenge.
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MICHAEL WILSON BEATS MINE MOONLIGHTERS IN AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Michael Wilson, a Kazakhstan-based lawyer specializing in mining and natural resources, has won a judgement from Australia’s highest court, reinstating a December 2009 award of more than $11 million. The five-year record of litigation has nailed three Australian lawyers — John Emmott, Robert Nicholls, and David Slater – for nicking clients, business, shares and profits from Wilson’s law firm MWP. According to the court rulings, the defendants secretly moonlighted to earn fees and share bonuses for transactions involving several major Kazakh resource projects — Sunkar Resources’s Chilisai phosphate project; Frontier Mining’s Benkala copper project; Roxi Petroleum; Max Petroleum; two other Central Asian mining projects, Urals Gold and Ablai; and four projects tied to these and other operators in the same region — Karamandybas (oil and gas), Ravninnoye (oil), Beibars Munai (oil), Lancaster, and Kangamiut (seafoods).
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MORDASHOV IS JOHNNY APPLESEED, LENDS HIMSELF MONEY, SWAPS SHARES WITH HIMSELF – HIGH RIVER GOLD MINORITIES ASK YUKON REGULATOR TO INVESTIGATE SUCH GENEROSITY

By John Helmer, Moscow

In American legend, Johnny Appleseed is the epitome of self-sacrificing kindness and charity to his fellow man. But he didn’t exactly give away his apple seeds. Johnny was a professional nurseryman – he gave seeds to friends and neighbours for planting in nurseries. The concessionaires and stakeholders then sold the trees and apples for commerce; Johnny kept the land. When he died in 1845, he was reputed to have accumulated an estate of more than 1,200 acres, not counting titles to land he’d forgotten about or lost. When the apple business went bust, Johnny stayed rich; his stakeholders weren’t so fortunate.
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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
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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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