HIDDEN HAND, CLEAN HAND IN RUSSIAN POLITICS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Ignore the plot entirely, but try this Stalin point from a novel called Archangel.

The story by Robert Harris, written in 1998, is about a semi-alcoholic professor of Russian history – Englishman, with a New York address — who is hot on the trail of Stalin’s personal notebooks, which he thinks were spirited out of the Kremlin by Lavrenty Beria, while Stalin was in his dacha dying. Buried by Beria’s chauffeur in his backyard, the notebooks stay where they are in what becomes the Tunisian Embassy in Moscow, after Beria is shot by the Politburo. But the notebooks turn out to be those of a girl from Arkhangelsk. Stalin impregnates her in order to leave an heir, which he does, spawning a man scarcely more believable than the others in the plot. Almost everyone in on the story dies, starting with Stalin.
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WHY THE RUSSIAN REGULATOR IS TRYING TO REQUIRE STEELMAKERS TO COMMIT INVESTMENT AT HOME – RASHNIKOV’S LITTLE BOOM IN TURKEY IS ONE REASON


By John Helmer, Moscow

In the Russian system, oligarchs can pretend to be patriots, but noone believes it. Nor does anyone, least of all outgoing president Dmitry Medvedev, believe them to be committed to competitive business.

But if you sit in the Kremlin, trying to run the power vertical over the wall to the rest of the country, the oligarchs serve the purpose of doing what they are told. When the red telephone rings, the oligarchs can be made to click their heels, salute, and say Yessir! more swiftly than the directors of state-owned or nationalized concerns. At least that’s the theory. In practice, Russia’s governors don’t have enough time in the day to make all the required telephone-calls (if they knew what to say, and wanted to).
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DOWN FEDINKA! SIT! – ALROSA SHARE SALE OFF UNTIL 2017

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alrosa’s state-owned shares will not be privatized until 2017, if then, a Kremlin document reveals this week.

The document is a 35-page briefing paper compiled by the Ministry of Economic Development, and presented by the Minister, Elvira Nabiullina, to President Dmitry Medvedev on January 24. In a tabulation of the government’s latest privatization schedule, at page 11 of the brief, a 50.9% stake in Alrosa is identified as subject to sale by 2017. The ministry declined to respond to a request for clarification.
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THIS MAN IS BAD FOR MIKHAIL PROKHOROV’S HEALTH — THE CHINA GOLD STANDARD HAS BECOME HIGH-RISK FOR RUSSIAN GOLDMINER SHARE PRICES

By John Helmer, Moscow

The future for Russian goldmining companies this year is bleak — even if the price of gold goes up.

The major Russian goldminers are all expected to fail to reach their mine output targets, so they will be able to sell less gold at what are expected to be higher costs. But there’s worse. In order to qualify for listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Polyus Gold — the property at present of Mikhail Prokhorov and Suleiman Kerimov and Russia’s leading goldminer — will have to sell their shares. This isn’t the first occasion in which those two have felled the share price by signalling their desire to sell.
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NEWTS, MITTS AND OTHER SPECIMENS IN THE FINK-NOTTLE COLLECTION OF MENACES TO CIVILIZATION AS RUSSIANS KNOW IT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Never before has the American electorate been given the opportunity to vote for a president whose first name gives away everything he stands for. And I’m not talking about Honest Abe — Abe meant nothing.

In the history of Newts the climax was first reached in 1934 by Augustus Fink-Nottle (left), one of England’s most distinguished researchers on the minor amphibian species, the Salamandridae (centre). These creatures distinguish themselves by a skin that is not only tough for a predator to bite into, but they secrete a toxin which in some species is strong enough to kill a man.
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1000TH DANCE WITH BEARS

By John Helmer, Moscow

The first Dance with Bears appeared in the Russia Journal, edited by Ajay Goyal, a decade ago. It began as a short commentary appearing once or twice a week. The title came from Astolphe de Custine, the greatest observer of Russia ever to be obliged to conceal what he was writing inside his hat, as the Russians he was writing about chased him across the frontier. That circumstance made for pithy style, sharp focus.

In 1839 de Custine had written: “Such ill-bred and yet well-informed, well-dressed, clever, and self-confident Russians are trained bears, the sight of which inclines me to regret the wild ones: they have not yet become polished men, and they are already spoiled savages.” His book drew denunciations in the Russian press at the time, and was banned in Russian until 1996.
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ROTHSCHILD SIGHT-SEEING TOUR TO SIBERIA, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT

By John Helmer, Moscow

In Abakan at this time of year the sun doesn’t rise until 10 in the morning, and by 5 it’s too dark to see much. It’s always been this way in the days which follow Kreshenskiy Moroz (the Feast of the Epiphany, old calendar).

This week in the capital of the central Siberian region of Khakassia, the forecast is for a low of -37 C. and a high of – 14 C. The windchill is -25 C. On January 31, 2005, the mean temperature during the day was -28 C, reaching -34 C after the sun went down at 5:33 pm.
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THE BIRDS TWEET AS SAINT SEVERSTAL FEEDS THE ENVIRONMENT – AN AMATEUR FILM FROM CHEREPOVETS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russian steel companies have been ordered by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to clean up their emissions, and pay for it out of their owners’ profit stream and dividends. If they agree, he is promising to provide tax and other offsets for their balance-sheets. Is he kidding?

According to the press reports, Sechin has ordered the government agencies supervising the steel sector, including the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), the Federal Environment Protection Agency (Rosprirodnadzor), and the Federal Agency for Ecological, Technical and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor), to devise new regulations to require the steelmakers to commit to a minimum level of capital expenditure for modernization of their production; to fund part of that out of their profits; and to receive in return tax and loan concessions. Among the objectives Sechin’s instruction reportedly cites is “reducing the environmental impact and increase competitiveness of Russian products.”
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NEWS FLASH FROM THE STONE AGE! THE FLINTSTONES ARE STILL ALIVE AND PLAYING IN MOSCOW

By John Helmer, Moscow

“Russia’s federal security service, the successor to the KGB, has launched a cold-war style attack on non-governmental organisations and human rights groups, linking them with alleged espionage by British diplomats in Moscow.The accusations against the British diplomats come within weeks of Russia assuming the presidency of G8 from Britain and just days before a meeting of finance ministers in Moscow which will be attended by Gordon Brown, the UK chancellor…

The FSB on Monday confirmed claims made in a state television programme that it had uncovered a James Bond-style spying operation involving four British diplomats using a transmitter hidden in a fake rock on a Moscow street to gather information.
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NO LUCKY DUCKY – BEREZOVSKY COURT TRIAL ENDS IN OLIGARCH SHOOT

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the final summing-up of Boris Berezovsky’s case for several billion dollars in stolen goods against Roman Abramovich, the name of Vladimir Putin turns up just four times.

The four mentions by Berezovsky’s counsel, Laurence Rabinowitz, during his two-day court presentation on January 17 and 18, are more noteworthy for what they aren’t.
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ARCHANGEL DIAMOND TAKES LUKOIL TO THE MAT AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) has this month renewed its battle against LUKoil for the latter’s alleged theft of multi-billion diamond mining rights at the Verkhotina deposit in the Arkhangelsk region of northwestern Russia. The new claims were lodged in the US District Court in the District of Colorado on January 6. Lead lawyers for ADC are the US-Russian law firm, Marks & Sokolov.

The case has been in the US and Swedish courts for more than a decade; in 2010 ADC’s failure to recover its 40% stake in the project and enforce its joint-venture agreement to mine the diamonds resulted in the company’s bankruptcy. What remains of ADC is a liquidation trust, based in Colorado, where ADC once had its headquarters for the Russian mining project. LUKoil operations in Colorado have also been documented in the court submissions in order for ADC’s applications to the courts in that state to be allowed to go to trial.
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OLEG DERIPASKA ORDERS LONDON LAWYERS IN AHEAD OF ROTHSCHILD-MANDELSON TRIAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

Turning modestly paid public office into extravagant personal wealth isn’t provably criminal, particularly not if there’s a decent interval of time between performing the first and scoring the second.

It may be indecent for elected politicians or officials on the taxpayer’s payroll to intend to turn the one into the other. But prying open the intentions of such people for investigation, prosecution, or accountability at election time isn’t easy. Policemen don’t like the job; accountants go shy of it; newspaper reporters may relish it, but lack the means.
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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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