Wednesday September 26 was Yom Kippur – the annual Day of Atonement for Jews, the most solemn holiday on the Jewish calendar, when according to the relevant Scripture, God opens his Judgement Book, and takes applications from everyone with an interest in having the black mark removed from his name. God’s finger is moving; in Israel, where Michael Cherney lives, nothing stirs.
In London, according to records of the High Court registry, an application was lodged to postpone the scheduled restart of the proceedings in Michael Cherney v Oleg Deripaska until next Tuesday, October 2. Advocates for each side had already presented their opening arguments to the presiding judge, Andrew Smith, in July, before the court took its summer recess. The trial schedule had provided for witness testimony and cross-examination for several months, starting this week. (more…)
The co-founder of the Mechel steelmaking and coal-mining group, Vladimir Iorikh, always said the over-confidence of partner Igor Zyuzin (parachutist) would get the company into trouble as big as this. So, rather than go down in flames himself when the crash he expected would come, Iorikh sold out to Zyuzin in January 2007, taking $1.5 billion to Switzerland and setting up on his own.
Zyuzin congratulated himself on out-smarting Iorikh when Mechel’s value in the market grew to a peak of $21 billion in May 2008. Zyuzin’s stake of about 67% was then worth $14 billion. Today, with Mechel worth just about one-tenth of that at $2.9 billion, Zyuzin’s stake is worth $1.9 billion; maybe less, because in July Zyuzin started selling shares – a 1.93% bloc was let go to an unidentified buyer at an unreported price. If things continue to get worse for Mechel, Zyuzin’s net worth will be less than his old partner’s. If Iorikh was as prudent as he accused Zyuzin of not being, it’s probable that he vaulted over Zyuzin in the wealth brackets some time ago. (more…)
Russian banks have been reflecting ponds for their owners since they began twenty years ago; wishing-wells too. That explains why Commerzbank accepted less than $200 million for its 14.4% shareholding in Promsvyazbank earlier this year, fixing the valuation of the bank at $1.4 billion; and why the bank owners, Alexei and Dmitry Ananiev, imagine that London investors should pay $500 million for a 25% stake; that’s a very wishful 50% premium.
You can tell how handsome they are (above Alexei, below Dmitry), but do the Ananiev brothers qualify for such a premium? (more…)
The full text of Justice Dame Elizabeth Gloster’s judgement in the UK High Court case of Boris Berezovsky v Roman Abramovich runs to 356 pages, 1253 sections, one appendix, and 555 footnotes. She is kindly toward the case lawyers, the computer system operators, the courtroom administrators, and the simultaneous translators. She is unapologetic about the length of the judgement, citing Blaise Pascal to the effect that she lacked “the leisure to make it shorter” (footnote 555 gives the original French in case of appeal against the judge’s translation). (more…)
After more than forty years, the last great Soviet state secret is out. And in its wake, a sensitive Chinese state secret, too.
Russian geologists reported over the weekend that the Popigai crater on the border between the Krasnoyarsk and Sakha regions of north eastern Siberia, formed by the 100-kilometre wide impact of a meteorite about 35 million years ago, could contain trillions of carats of small diamonds. The secret has been locked up in the Soviet archives since the discovery of the crater at least forty years ago. (more…)
Swiss bankers aren’t famous for their sense of humour. So it will come as no surprise that the Gnomes of Zurich were serious when they recently sent a questionnaire to 22 of the richest crooks and liars in Russia, asking them for their assessment of the prospects for Russian wealth management — and printed their answers with a straight face. According to UBS, 55% of their 22-person sample say corruption is the biggest problem they currently have in increasing (or keeping) their wealth; well ahead of macro-economic problems like falling demand; global problems like the collapse of commodity prices and producer share prices; and domestic commercial problems like the weakening rouble, rising costs, and dwindling bank credit.
The twenty-two made the UBS sample if they were domiciled in Russia and admitted to a net worth of at least $50 million apiece. One in 10 of the sample (that’s two) “belong to families worth between $250 million and $500 million, with one family worth in excess of half a billion dollars.” Of the remaining 20, 13 reported a family fortune of between $50 million and $100 million. Three put themselves in the wealth bracket between $100 million and $250 million. Richer crooks and liars may have returned the UBS questionnaire unanswered. But those responding acknowledged that when it comes to running their businesses and making money, they don’t give a fig for accountability, transparency, or the conventional standards of corporate governance. According to the report, “the percentage of respondents adhering to a corporate governance code has fallen substantially to just 23% [five]. Of the remainder, 41% say they are in the process of implementing a code, but 36% simply state that they do not comply with any corporate governance code.” (more…)
Yury Privalov, the Sovcomflot shipping manager charged with embezzlement from the company, has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison, and fined Rb1 million ($32,250), Judge Natalia Morovoza ruled this evening in the Dorogomilovsky court of Moscow. Privalov was not in court to hear the verdict; he is reported by his lawyer as having had a “hypertensive emergency” on Sunday evening, and been hospitalized at the Bakulev Scientific Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery.
Morozova began reading the judgement at 10 am on Monday, and continued reading the 300-page document until 8 pm. A guilty verdict was not in doubt, as Privalov had already pleaded guilty. There was no testing of the evidence in court; and no cross-examination of witnesses. The prosecution had requested a sentence of six years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rb1 million. Sovcomflot had requested Privalov’s discharge on a non-custodial sentence. The jail term announced by Morozova includes the 22 months already served by Privalov in a Swiss prison between 2006 and 2008, when he was challenging extradition to Russia. (more…)
There have been demonstrations this month in the Romanian town of Campa Turzii against plans by Russian steel maker Mechel to cut its local steelmill’s workforce by up to a thousand jobs, after rolling job cuts have already reduced the plant’s workforce over recent years. The Romanian government responded on Friday by promising a ministerial investigation into how Mechel acquired the plant in a privatization transaction in 2003, and whether it has met the government’s terms for investment and job security since then.
Liviu Pop, the Minister of Social Dialogue, announced after a meeting with steelworkers: “There are some questions about the privatization of Mechel Campia Turzii in 2003. There are signs that this contract was not respected. The Government is obliged to take the first step and we will have a discussion with ministers of Economy, Finance, Environment, and AVAS [state property agency] to see what is the situation of the privatization contract and its consequences. If irregularities are found, the state organs will be notified of the details. If it is unfair competition, abuse of office , misconduct in office, we will consider revocation of this contract”. (more…)
Private Eye, the only periodical of investigative journalism still made of paper and ink and for sale in the UK, is old enough to be a grandfather in his dodders. So when the editor, Ian Hislop (aged 52), and his anonymous reporters took sides with Pussy Riot last month, it may have been natural for them to find a figure they called a “British grandfather”, and here’s what he reportedly did: (more…)
Russian government investigators are focusing on a tiny, little known Latvian bank through which Oleg Deripaska (front) has been holding and moving billions of dollars. The Latvian Trade Bank (LTB), as it was known for many years, has recently been renamed Expobank, after it was taken over by Igor Kim, who bought the bank from Alexander Mamut (left).
The bank was a target of investigation by lawyers for Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky, as they prepared for their recent trial in the UK High Court. Its money-laundering business became public during the witness testimony at the trial last October and November. At one point, the bank’s management agreed to submit to the UK court’s jurisdiction and accept a court order to disclose its transaction records. (more…)
In the history of the Spanish Main, it was always tricky to tell who had title to what, as the Spaniards stole gold and silver from the Aztecs and the Incas, and the British pirated the Spanish galleons as they made their way across the Caribbean. Who can blame the Danes for not trusting the Russians in what has been announced this week as the biggest delivery of treasure by a foreigner, the A.P. Moller-Maersk group, ever unloaded in Russia’s seagoing business.
Are the terms of the complicated shareholding arrangement a scheme for the Russians to take as much cash for themselves before their container business loses its growth prospects, and profit margins shrink under domestic competition from Vladimir Yakunin (Russian Railways), Ziyavudin Magomedov (Summa Capital), and Vladimir Lisin (Universal Cargo Logistics Holding, UCLH), not to mention Vladimir Putin, Igor Sechin, Arkady Dvorkovich, and Dmitry Medvedev? Is the postponement of shareholding control for the enterprise a hedge by the Danes against the possibility that it will prove impossible to take practical operating control of the assets they are now acquiring as a minority stakeholder? (more…)
The second day of Yury Privalov’s trial in Moscow for embezzling funds from Sovcomflot ended Monday evening without a ruling from Judge Natalia Morozova. The state shipping group, represented by lawyers from Sovcomflot, one of its offshore subsidiaries, and Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship), have requested leniency and Privalov’s discharge. The state prosecution has asked for a sentence of six years in prison, less the two years Privalov has already served, and a fine of Rb1 million ($30,000). The judge reserved her decision, and promised to issue her judgement in a week’s time on September 17. (more…)
There is no literal Russian language version for stool pigeon, as the term is understood in English — someone who acts as a decoy to trap others into committing a crime, and then gives evidence against them for a payoff. The nearest Russian term is стукач. The meaning is the same – whatever the stoolie or стукачёк says is as likely to be fabricated as true.
On Friday, in the Dorogomilovsky regional court of Moscow, Judge Natalia Morozova heard lawyers for the Sovcomflot group, the state-owned tanker company, commend the pigeon, I mean the accused, Yury Privalov (image left), for his expertise and cooperation in recovering $150 million in money he had helped embezzle when Privalov was in charge of the London operations of Sovcomflot’s UK affiliated company, Fiona. (more…)
In the wasted human life department, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom are currently the front-runners. With one down (Libya) and three and a half wars on the go – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran – how can the scoring be in doubt?
So it’s always surprising when out of some active-measures file in a Cold War closet, someone depicts the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) as the more recklessly murderous. In Geoffrey Sambrook’s fresh novel, not only does an FSB agent kidnap an Austrian aluminium trader from a leading restaurant in Hamburg, but then shoots him in the head and dumps his body off the parapet of the Adolphusbrucke (image), wearing made-in-Russia handcuffs. That’s the thing about the old active-measures files, they always portray the Russian side as fatally careless. And that’s the problem with the novel, Czar Rising: Money and politics in the new Russia, by Geoffrey Sambrook. (more…)
The shrinking violet of English literature, Jane Austen (image top right), said it best: “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”
Alexei Mordashov (image centre) likes to think of the Business System he has introduced at his steel company Severstal as a sign of genius. He even spells the management method with capital BS, which is also the way managers speak of it.
In Severstal’s annual report for last year, the same thing is headlined “Transformational Thinking” (TT). Far from being transformational, the language in the annual report describing the BS is conventional share-price touting: “Among industry players, our Business System is unrivaled in terms of the extent of its integration and EBITDA contribution potential. The system aims to optimise company-wide operations, unify goals, create a strong corporate culture and improve KPIs ranging from profit to efficiency to health and safety targets.” (more…)
A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent in Moscow named Steven Rosenberg staged and filmed a rehearsal of what he claims Pussy Riot told him they were planning at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral at least a day, possibly several days before February 21. That is the day when three of the group members committed the acts for which they were convicted in a Moscow court on August 17, and sentenced to prison for two years.
The BBC’s role in encouraging these acts, coaching them in rehearsal in front of a camera, and then acting as an international megaphone for their songs and claims, was not called in evidence during the court proceedings, nor mentioned in the judgement. But the BBC is now refusing to answer questions about what they have done to promote Pussy Riot in media that have been circulating worldwide since February. (more…)
That Boris Berezovsky (image upper right) is a self-delusional liar is no news, particularly not in Moscow.
That Justice Dame Elizabeth Gloster (image lower right) should have made this point the crux of her August 31 judgement, dismissing Berezovsky’s claims against Roman Abramovich (lower left), should come as a surprise only to those who for a decade have promoted and protected Berezovsky’s claims to political power in Russia, business acumen, wealth, and superior intelligence; that is, a succession of British prime ministers starting with Tony Blair, and the Anglo-American media, led by the Guardian of London. (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.