Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), a publicly listed shareholding company controlled by Victor Rashnikov, says that in the first two months of this year, it has not cut back on production of steel. “Everything is fine and we now have growth,” Yelena Evstigneyeva, MMK’s spokesman told CRU Steel News.
She was responding to a report of monthly production and market data, issued on March 26 by the federal Ministry of Economic Development (MED) in Moscow. The report says that in January and February, MMK turned out 1.804 million tonnes of finished steel; this was down by 6.2% from the same period of 2011. (more…)
Oleg Deripaska’s courtroom defence against the multi-billion dollar claim by his former patron and business partner, Mikhail Chernoy (Michael Cherney) collapsed into lawyer malfeasance and retraction of charges in federal US district court in New York last week.
A leak to the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, published on March 26, has also triggered pending action for contempt of court. This relates to peddling on Deripaska’s part, publication on the Post’s part, of false allegations contained in a court filing which Deripaska was obliged to withdraw, and which was then placed under US court seal. (more…)
Now we move on from the lesson of how to be victorious over big people and bullies when still small —that’s for getting through the daytimes with ВЛАДИМИР ВИЗАНТИЙСКИЙ – to the lesson of how to write a short sentence and say everything that must be said at the same time. That’s for getting through the terrors of the night.
In the department of small sentences, Mikhail Zoshchenko (centre image) is the greatest Russian exponent. For the English, Shakespeare and Dickens don’t make the grade, because they were best at writing long, contorted ones. In French, Flaubert beats Proust to a pulp. In American, Edgar Allan Poe and Raymond Chandler leave Henry James and Saul Bellow biting the dust. (more…)
If Russia’s Agriculture Minister, Elena Skrynnik, went to the trouble last week of decrying adulteration of Russia’s milk, then one thing is certain – the Franco-American syndicate which sells most of Russia’s milk and dominates the market is having trouble pricing down or buying up milk producers in the regions where they claim adulteration is “unfair competition”. That’s because “unfair competition” is what Danone of France and Pepsico of the US have been hoping would be more effective in the Russian milk market than it is proving to be. Naturally, what is unfair depends on who controls the milk production chain, and who doesn’t.
According to the milk sops in the Moscow media, Skrynnik recently sent a letter to the governors of regions specializing in milk production, urging them to halt sales of sub-standard milk. The adulterators are being accused of adding cheap palm oil imported from Southeast Asia instead of the more costly butterfat required by Russia’s product standards. “The use of tropical oils is unacceptable. The ministry will regularly monitor the situation,” Skrynnik is reported to have said. (more…)
Valued correspondent (aka Boris Bear) has written in to point out an odd typo which crept into the texts of two recent stories involving Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik.
They are the two shareholding partners of United Company Rusal, with a 15.8% stake between them, who appear to have uncovered cooking of the books by Oleg Deripaska in relation to the value of Rusal’s 25% bloc of Norilsk Nickel shares. Deripaska amended the company’s financial report. Vekselberg went public. (more…)
Commanders of empires like the French, British, American and Russian suffer from an identical blind spot.
They all believe their power (arms, cash) is or should be great enough to destroy their adversaries decisively, totally, so that they can’t get up to fight again. The Americans lost the Vietnam war, as they are losing the Iraq, Afghan and in time, the Libyan and Syrian wars, because their enemies can and do get up to fight again. Not even B-52 carpet bombers, Tomahawk cruise missiles, or assassin drones can kill enough of them, nor the firepower prevent the empire’s casualties reaching breakpoint. (more…)
BC Iron is a small but promising iron-ore miner from Western Australia, which is China’s mineral supply province and rival of Russian suppliers to China. The company is now testing the share price at which it was the target of an abortive takeover attempt a year ago. The bidder at that time, Regent Pacific, a Hong Kong-listed promoter of a junior mining stocks, is part-owned and part-chaired by Stephen Dattels, an impresario of stock market wagers. On the latest available financial reports, Regent Pacific is losing money at the mining game.
Regent Pacific is also the operator of a fixed-odds financial betting scheme which, according to the company website, is “the market leader in its [wagering] industry.” Gambling can be profitable; it seems Regent Markets Holdings Ltd, the betting affiliated unit of the group, is turning over far more money than the mining holding, and at last report generated a 6-month profit of US$1.07 million, compared with US$1.8 million loss for the mining business. (more…)
Alrosa has announced that the privatization plan for sale of its shares on the open market should be restricted in order to preserve government control of the company. The announcement was released Friday after a meeting of the Supervisory Board, Alrosa’s board of directors.
Now why exactly would this group of government officials representing the principal and controlling shares in the Russian diamond mining monopoly go to all the trouble of declaring the obvious? Who doesn’t already know and accept this policy? (more…)
Ahead of the March 16 election of a new board chairman for United Company Rusal, President-elect Vladimir Putin did something that isn’t widely known; has never happened before; and has not been disclosed by Rusal.
The story of what happened in the run-up to the board vote can be read here. The qualifications of the new chairman, Barry Cheung, are here.
According to the Rusal press release of March 18, “Barry Cheung’s election as a Chairman was supported by a majority vote of the Board, including the independent directors. This proves that his candidacy meets the interests of all shareholders, including minorities. His appointment was also met by a marked rise in the Company’s share price, which had been declining over the past few days under pressure from the emotional and groundless statements made by SUAL Partners [Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik].” (more…)
Barry Cheung (second left), the new board chairman of United Company Rusal and the first non-Russian chairman of a Russian monopoly, is viewed by his countrymen and business peers as a technocrat, a politician, and a businessman, in that order.
The one business he reports in the curriculum vitae released by Rusal is the Bermuda-registered, Hong Kong-listed Titan Petrochemicals Group Limited. This company says it has concentrated on selling floating and land-based oil storage services for Chinese oil buyers, as well as bunker fuel for vessels, after dropping out of the business of oil trading in 2008. Cheung says he was chief executive officer between July 2004 and January 2008, and then vice chairman of the Titan board. A search of Titan’s annual reports from 2008 to 2011 reveals that Cheung was replaced as chief executive in 2007 and moved to deputy chairman of the board; but he resigned from that post in June 2008. (more…)
Because the JFC company spokesman refused to confirm the name of Vladimir Kekhman’s wife, and thus clarify whether she has played a role in the management and board direction of JFC, it was incorrectly reported that Tatiana Litvinova, until very recently a board director at JFC, was Kekhman’s wife. This appears to be incorrect, based on research in the publicly accessible picture files of Russian media.
According to JFC, Mrs Kekhman’s identity was a private matter, and that’s where it would remain, if Viktoria Aminova had not agreed to publication of photographs of her with her husband (numbers 1 and 2), at presentations of fashion designs she sells (3 and 4), and at a public lecture on ballet and fashion (5). The likeness is confirming; so is the ring on the left finger in pictures 1, 3 and 5.
Vladimir Kekhman, the controlling shareholder of Joint Fruit Company (JFC), Russia’s biggest banana trader, has received a summons to appear in the UK High Court to face charges of contempt of court. If he is found culpable, he may be jailed. If he doesn’t appear and is convicted, he may be arrested on warrants exercisable at the frontiers of almost every country Kekhman likes to visit, especially on the tours planned this year for the Mikhailovsky Theatre and Ballet Company which Kekhman also directs.
It is unprecedented for a major Russian business figure to undergo a contempt of court proceeding in the British courts, and to date none has been sent to prison. But the case of Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov is a warning and omen for Kekhman. Ablyazov, the former controlling shareholder of BTA Bank, was convicted last month and sentenced to 22 months in prison for contempt in relation to High Court asset freeze orders. He is now on the run. (more…)
Oleg Deripaska (image top right) has always had trouble with his business partners when money rewards, administrative pressure, threats, or rigged courts failed to be persuasive. So he might have been more cautious announcing yesterday that the replacement of Victor Vekselberg as chairman of the board of United Company Rusal will be Deripaska’s decision to make swiftly and easily. At a conference call yesterday with reporters, Deripaska claimed the appointment will be made at a board meeting on Friday; and that Vekselberg is likely to be replaced by his choice of one of the board directors Deripaska considers independent. “The chair won’t even get cold,” Deripaska is reported as telling the reporters. None of the reporters is reported to have said anything. (more…)
Sergei Stepashin is a former Prime Minister of Russia. He’s also been a security minister, justice minister and interior minister. He holds a doctorate of law, the academic rank of professor, and the military rank of Colonel-General. This is a serious pedigree — when he tilts at a target, Stepashin is a master of pen and sword. For many years he has headed the state audit organization responsible for supervising the legality and efficacy of state tax-gathering and state spending. This outfit is called the Accounting Chamber. Since it was created in 2000, Stepashin has been its only chief. (more…)
Victor Vekselberg, chairman of the board of directors of United Company Rusal, has done what no Russian business partner of Oleg Deripaska has dared to do before, with one exception – announced publicly, and to Deripaska’s face, that Deripaska has violated his signed agreements and brought discredit on his business. Vekselberg, who once proposed merging his Siberian Ural Aluminium (SUAL) company with Mikhail Chernoy’s (Michael Cherney’s) 20% stake in Siberian Aluminium, putting Deripaska out of the business, now follows Chernoy in charging Deripaska with dereliction of his fiduciary duty, and worse. Cherney, the exception now joined by Vekselberg, takes Deripaska to trial in London in June.
It is unprecedented in Russian business for the chairman of the board of a major Russian company to make a public attack on the competence and propriety of the chief executive. This is because the board chairman of a Russian public company is generally the control shareholder, or the trustee of the control shareholder. But in this case, Vekselberg with 15.8% of the Rusal shares (shared with his partner Len Blavatnik) is implicitly challenging Deripaska’s nominal shareholding of 47.41%, hinting at what is widely suspected in Moscow – that Deripaska doesn’t himself control that bloc, and can be called to account for the loss of Rusal value by those who do. (more…)
Imagine that Russian spetznaz troops were helicoptered into a foreign country, opening fire on a hideout in which Russian citizens were being held hostage by heavily-armed bad guys demanding a ransom for their captives. And suppose the outcome of the firefight was the deaths of the hostages. One can be sure the Anglo-American media would headline the operation as a botch-up demonstrating the incompetence of the Russian military, the Russian lack of respect for the human rights of its citizens, and the ruthlessness of President-elect Vladimir Putin for giving the foolhardy order to fire.
“The beginning of the end of Putin” would be the sub-text, just as The Economist has front-covered its reporting of Russia this week, while its sister publication, The Financial Times, tries to talk down Putin’s election majority, talk up Russian risk in the markets, and ignore the contrary evidence of the RTS index — up 24% since the start of the year; down 4.3% after election day, and up again by 2.2% yesterday. As a Moscow-based reporter of a US paper of record complains, his bureau has been under orders from headquarters to keep up the anti-Putin drum-beat to the exclusion of other news. (more…)
This morning Signor Enzo Caderni, the Director of the Grand Hotel & Pace Spa at Montecatini Terme, a well-known establishment in the Tuscan mineral waters resort, has confirmed that the wife of the outgoing president of Russia, Svetlana Medvedeva , has taken his hotel for a personal visit. The entire hotel, but not all of its 140 rooms.
Details of her stay appeared first in the Italian newspapers, then in the Russian media. Since the hotel is currently closed for its seasonal break, and will not reopen to regular guests until March 23, it’s possible that the First Lady’s party will benefit from a substantial discount for their accommodation. Otherwise, her presidential suite would cost about €600 per night, and the full complement of connecting or accompanying rooms and suites about €12,000 per night, not counting nourishment, treatment, water, etc. (more…)
When British prime ministers borrow horses to ride from Rupert Murdoch’s employees, and Scotland Yard inspectors are entertained on their tab, it has been natural for Murdoch to expect he could tie a bridle on prime ministers and policemen and lead them in whatever direction he wanted. And so he has.
Still, the bribery, invasion of privacy, perversion of justice, and corruption troubles which Murdoch and at least one son, James Murdoch, are in at the moment in London show signs of being remedied at a price Murdoch can afford to pay. (more…)
For three years, between 2008 and 2010, Rupert Murdoch and his subordinates in charge of the Russian asset he owned, News Outdoor Russia (NOR), were under the investigation of the Moscow city prosecutors, the city Duma, and other government agencies for alleged bribery of municipal officials in exchange for business favours.
NOR’s business was erecting billboards in public space on city or state property, and advertising products to passers-by. The less NOR managed to pay in rent for the land and permissions on which the billboards depended, the more profit Murdoch took from the advertising charge. Maybe Murdoch shared his profits with city officials, maybe he didn’t – that was the crux of the corruption enquiries. (more…)
Russia is big, so when people make mistakes about Russia, they make big ones.
Take this one, for example, by the self-proclaimed genius of the opposite of investigative journalism – advertising. Asked if he planned to open one of his international ad agency offices in Russia, David Ogilvy responded: “what are we going to sell? Fur hats!”
There’s no permanent damage to reputation in making mistakes if you can recognize them later on, acknowledge them, learn from them. It also stands to reason that the bigger the mistake, the bigger the concession, and maybe the more valuable the lesson. (more…)
Does the Russian vodka lobby fear or hate beer so much, it’s thought up a devious customs regulation to make the latter more expensive, and thus less drinkable among penniless Russians? And are the vodka schemers so devious, they have hidden their intention by introducing the customs regulation in the guise of standardizing (harmonizing is the bureaucrats’ term) the different customs rules of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, which together comprise a single customs union these days? (more…)
It isn’t known whether Alexei Mordashov is religious enough to have studied the Proverbs section of the Old Testament. But as a guide to mining in Africa, he ought to have read this one: “Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolls a stone, it will return on him.”
The reason this might have occurred to Mordashov and his Severstal mining division is that the pit he dug for himself in the Republic of Guinea at the LEFA goldmining concession, he is now about to fall into at the Putu iron-ore project in Liberia. (more…)
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 bilificationof society.
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.