ZIYAVUDIN MAGOMEDOV ADVERTISES ANOTHER MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR IMPROBABILITY, THIS TIME A $3 BILLION TAKEOVER OF AUSTRALIA’S GRAINCORP

By John Helmer, Moscow

When he was last spotted at his own devices, Ziyavudin Magomedov announced on September 20 that some time in the next decade he and Gazprom intend to build a refinery to convert natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) in bunker form to power a Magomedov fleet of newly designed, newly launched ocean-going ships. Magomedov’s current fleet comprises mostly tugboats with antique power plants, employed for tanker escort at Novorossiysk and Primorsk ports; he has declined to explain where the new fleet would come from, or why. So the announcement appeared to be no more than an advertisement that, in the current scramble for state budget and state bank funds, Magomedov has a powerful ally.

He has now followed with a placement in Bloomberg that he is thinking of making a bid to buy Australia’s GrainCorp, and must beat the takeover bid already on the table from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) for A$2.77 billion (US$2.88 billion).
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RUSAL IN DESPERATE MEASURES TO SAVE NIGERIAN SMELTER

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the century-old story of the little boy and the four tigers, the latter force the lad to give up his clothes with threats to eat him, if he doesn’t come across. Then in a frenzy of envy and greed, the tigers chase each other until they turn to butter. Unscathed, the boy takes back his clothes, and his mother turns the tiger butter into pancakes.

In a turn-up for the books, after eight years of litigation in the US and Nigerian courts, pancakes is what the Nigerian government is now making of United Company Rusal. Not ready to take this lying down, lawyers for Rusal have asked the courts of London and Los Angeles to rule again on just who is the tiger, and who the boy in this story.
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OLEG DERIPASKA’S BOEING FOR SALE

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the good old days, when Rusal, Russia’s aluminium monopoly, was taking in great volumes of cash and Oleg Deripaska, the controlling shareholder, had his associates emptying it for other business as fast as they could, Deripaska operated a fleet of aircraft, large and small. That the biggest of the fleet, a 5-year old Boeing 337, is now in the catalogue of an aircraft broker for sale, indicates how diminished the company’s fortunes have become, and how little Deripaska himself controls what remains of the cashflow. In the mock-up, that is Deripaska inside the lounge of the aircraft, sitting next to his new creditor, Iskander Makhmudov.
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THE STELLA RIMINGTON VIEW OF RUSSIA – PERVERSE CRUELTY FOR PREPOSTEROUS MOTIVES, NO GAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Spy novels are a dime a dozen – make that £10 before they are remaindered; the fact that some of them are written by ex-spies or counter-espionage agents doesn’t make them more precious for their veracity or insight. What makes Stella Rimington (right) a cut above (or below) is what she reveals to be her understanding of her enemy’s character, purpose, modus operandi, and pathology, as inculcated in Rimington during her 27-year career as an MI5 officer. In that time she was promoted successfully through every branch (counter-espionage, counter-subversion, counter-terrorism) until she spent her last five years as Director-General. Since then Rimington has been writing fictional thrillers. The last of these, The Geneva Trap, published a few weeks ago, is about several agents of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). It’s what Rimington understands of them that makes the read worthwhile: not for what it reveals about such Russians, but what it reveals about the MI5 mind-set.
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POCKETS, NOT PALATES, HAVE THE BIGGEST TASTE FOR RUSSIAN COGNAC

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russian consumption of wine, beer and vodka declined during the last economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, and the early signs are that this is happening again. But cognac is in a very special category. All the alcoholic drinks, but one, respond to the availability of money in Russian consumers’ hands. When the supply of money dries up, and consumers are thirsty, they opt for moonshine. But even that obeys the laws of money supply and demand. Cognac, however, is a type of currency itself. The volume of cognac sales goes up when the value of bribes is rising.

Last week, the government regulator RosAlkogolRegulirovanie (RAR) announced that it has decided to raise the minimum price in retail of a bottle of domestic brand champagne (0.75l) to Rb115 ($3.71). The move, which follows an earlier one in 2010 to raise the minimum retail price of vodka to Rb125 (for 0.5l), has been requested by the sparkling wine producers association. The objective is to make it easier for the regulators to stop the sale of illegally produced champagne which is averaging Rb99 a bottle. At that price, it currently commands about 40% of the market. When the vodka minimum was raised, the effect, according to the experts, was to drive about one bottle in five of moonshine vodka off the market. A plan to do the same for still wine is under consideration at RAR at present.
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WE’RE SORRY, YOUR CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED AS DIALLED — ALISHER USMANOV CANNOT SELL MEGAFON FOR THE TIME BEING

By John Helmer, Moscow

When it comes to interior decoration, no one does gilding better than Alisher Usmanov. And when it comes to serving delicacies to journalists, none cooks up the hors d’oeuvres better than he does. In the international stock markets, however, these qualities don’t quite cut the mustard. In consequence, in London this week Usmanov has set the Russian record for the number of attempts at initial public offerings (IPOs) or strategic share sales which have failed for buyers or price, or which he has withdrawn for related, if undisclosed reasons.

In between February and October 2008, there were at least two direct IPO tries for Usmanov’s Metalloinvest holding of iron-ore mines and steelmills, and one reverse listing attempt with Kazakhmys. In 2010 there was an attempt at selling a stake to Mitsui, and then a reverse listing negotiation with Nathaniel Rothschild’s ill-fated Vallar; both misfired. Between 2010 and 2011 another London Stock Exchange (LSE) bid was tried. Add to this reckoning the 2003-2004 negotiation with the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus; abortive schemes to add Ukrainian and Kazakh iron-ore assets to his Mikhailovsky and Lebedinsky mines; and a national metals champion plan to merge with Norilsk Nickel and Rusal in 2009.
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WHICH WAY IS GENNADY TIMCHENKO RUNNING?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Gennady Timchenko is usually so discreet, he engages lawyers to warn reporters away from peering too closely at his private life. So when his friends, all of a sudden and in unison, start telling a Moscow newspaper that he has decided to move back to Russia, Timchenko is either acting out of character, or he is engaged in damage limitation. The Vedomosti report of October 19 makes Timchenko appear to be running towards Moscow. A day later, a report published in the Geneva newspaper Le Temps makes it appear Timchenko may be running away from Geneva.
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BP’S PYRRHIC VICTORY – HOW BOB DUDLEY SAVED HIS JOB BY BECOMING IGOR SECHIN’S RETAINER

By John Helmer, Moscow

The London Paralympics aren’t over for BP’s chief executive, Bob Dudley. Even if he wins gold, he’s finishing with fewer limbs than he started with.

According to the Financial Times version of the negotiation to date between Rosnft, BP, TNK-BP, and between Igor Sechin, Bob Dudley, and Mikhail Fridman, a deal in which Rosneft buys out the 50% Russian shareholding in TNK-BP, and then buys out the equally sized BP stake for a total of about $56 billion, “ would mark a victory for Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, extricating the UK oil major from a partnership with a group of Soviet-born billionaires that has been plagued by often tempestuous shareholder conflicts. The deal would give BP $15bn-$20bn in cash plus a stake of 10-20 per cent in Rosneft, one person close to the situation said.”
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THE STINGER STUNG — DERIPASKA’S COSTS CHANGE RUSAL SHAREHOLDING

By John Helmer, Moscow

The disclosure of the costs Roman Abramovich incurred in defending against and defeating Boris Berezovsky’s claims — confirmed by an order of Justice Dame Elizabeth Gloster on October 12 — have turned out to be less for Berezovsky to pay than had been speculated in the press. But that’s because he had a contingency fee agreement (CFA) with his law firm, Addleshaw Goddard, which in turn carried an insurance policy. Berezovsky’s obligation to pay his lawyers depending on his winning. If he lost, as he did, Addleshaws’ insurer paid. The details of a “partial CFA deal with the client” have been reported in the London lawyer media.

What the order for Berezovsky to pay Abramovich £35 million ($56 million) also means is that Michael Cherney’s (Chernoy) legal bill for his similarly long, comparably complex and costly case against Oleg Deripaska was probably about the same amount. Consequently, it is possible to deduce how much Deripaska agreed to pay Cherney for the settlement they announced on September 27 – and how Deripaska financed the pay-out.
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THE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, ACCORDING TO REFORM FINANCIER VLADIMIR ASHURKOV

By John Helmer, Moscow

Vladimir Ashurkov was advertising his principles last week in the Moscow Times. He is currently executive director of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, one of the organs of the political opposition led by Alexei Navalny. Ashurkov is described by the newspaper as the principal fund-raiser for Navalny, and himself a candidate for election to the coordination council of the opposition movements.

He has identified his last employer from 2006 to 2012 as Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group. Before that, between 2004 and 2006, Ashurkov confirms he was vice president for strategic development of Sergei Generalov’s holding, Industrial Investors. Those were the years when one of Generalov’s strategic developments was a deal to acquire the Georgian mining company called Madneuli; borrow heavily from Deutsche Bank against its future gold production; and spend the money acquiring goldmining companies in Armenia and elsewhere in the name of GeoProMining, a Caribbean island-registered entity.
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THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY — VTB ACCUSES ITSELF OF RIPOFF AND IS TOLD BY THE UK COURTS TO TAKE ITS CASE TO THE RUSSIAN PROSECUTOR

By John Helmer, Moscow

A case that has been going through the courts in London for months, and will be argued afresh in November before the Supreme Court, Britain’s highest tribunal, reveals not only how easy it was for a group of alleged fraudsters to borrow $225 million from state-controlled VTB Bank. Also revealed is how VTB bank officials in Moscow ignored risk and security warnings against the loan from their subordinates in London, and channelled bank fees and commissions amounting to at least 10% of the loan through a fake consultant. That, the British courts have concluded, was an offshore entity intended to avoid Russian tax. More likely it was a kickback scheme to enrich the VTB bankers in Moscow making the loan approval. VTB’s misrepresentations on this and other scores have been judged to be so serious, the High Court has tossed out several claims by VTB, and charged the bank with “deliberate material non-disclosure” (aka lying, deceit).

Why VTB intends to reveal so much about its own banking practices in London without prosecuting the ripoff in Moscow is difficult to understand because VTB refuses to answer a single question about the case. The intimation is that VTB is afraid of launching a criminal or civil fraud case in Moscow for fear that prosecutors will turn up evidence that VTB bankers were in cahoots with the alleged fraudsters to share more than $20 million of the loan proceeds between them.
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YELLOWISM BEFORE REDDISM, VLADIMIRISM BEFORE MARKISM

By John Helmer, Moscow

Never was a Russian design more nobly intended for the edification of London’s upper class since Karl Marx scribbled away at the British Museum Library. Never were the fetish of the object and the alienation of labor more artfully combined. Had Mr Bean done it, the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, maybe a naked prince and duchess too, would have fallen over each other to be photographed shaking the artful dodger’s hand.

And how modest the graffito: “Vladimir Umanets 12 A Potential Piece of Yellowism”. Imagine if Karl had scribbled “you have nothing to lose but your potential chains”. Who would have united for that? Would we be bitterly complaining the Romanovs alive and still on their thrones?
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GOLDMAN SACHS SPITS THE DUMMY AT ALISHER USMANOV’S MEGAFON IPO

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s no surprise that when Alisher Usmanov (left) proposed an initial public offering (IPO) of Megafon, a mobile telephone company he controls, he decided to keep all his shares to himself, and to oblige new sharebuyers to bid for stock being sold from the treasury of Megafon, and from minority stockholder, Sweden’s TeliaSonera. That makes the IPO less a wager on the profitability of Russian telephones, more a referendum on who wants to be Usmanov’s minority shareholding partner.

It is also unsurprising that Goldman Sachs, one of the two co-managers engaged in June to manage the IPO, refused to do so, resigning days ago, just before Megafon completed its prospectus. Goldman Sachs didn’t have such a problem being co-manager of the listing of Yandex, the Russian search engine company, in April of 2011. In December of 2011, Goldman Sachs didn’t walk away from its role as co-manager in a $500 million loan syndicate for Vimpelcom, one of Megafon’s domestic competitors.
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UK COURT OF APPEAL RULES AGAINST OLEG DERIPASKA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Very occasionally it happens that the lie a man tells, or his lawyer, comes back to haunt him.

Here is the judgement in the case of Michael Cherney (Chernoy) v Oleg Deripaska, issued by the UK Court of Appeal on October 3. Not a word of it has appeared yet in the press in London or Moscow.

Deripaska had appealed to the higher court after the trial judge in the High Court, Justice Andrew Smith, ruled in July against his applications for witness protection orders.
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WHERE DO RUSSIAN ELEPHANTS GO TO DIE? NOT BY CHOICE INTO ROMAN ABRAMOVICH’S BONEYARD

By John Helmer, Moscow

The two 20-year veteran coalminers who have directed Raspadskaya, one of Russia’s leading coking coal producers, have unexpectedly sold out their stake in the company. According to the terms of the deal announced in Moscow yesterday, Evraz, the vertically integrated steel and mining group controlled by Roman Abramovich (left image), will pay Gennady Kosovoy, currently CEO, and Alexander Vagin, board chairman, $202 million in cash, plus an 11.06% share of Evraz’s equity.

Kosovoy is the coalmine boss; Vagin runs political interference at the regional level and protection wherever required. They haven’t enjoyed being the co-control shareholders, with Abramovich, of the publicly listed company. Even less, they haven’t cared for Abramovich’s pressure to pay him dividends from Raspadskaya’s profit — and that was when the mining company was making a profit, and when the two veterans wanted to reinvest the proceeds in the mine itself. Because Raspadskaya was the only half-way independent coal supplier to the steel industry in Russia, its takeover by Evraz significantly reduces competition in the Russian market.
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PATSY’S GOT BALLS — MORDASHOV TO PULL HIS PRICE FOR HIGH RIVER GOLD UPWARD, OR POCKET HIS OFFER ALTOGETHER

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Canadian valuer hired to provide an independent valuation of High River Gold (HRG) for Nord Gold’s takeover offer appears to be recommending a higher price than Alexei Mordashov, owner of Nord Gold and 75% shareholder of HRG, wants to pay, leaving the takeover in limbo.

Paradigm Capital’s research department, headed by Daniel Kim of Toronto, has been working on the valuation since July, when Nord Gold announced a share swap or cash purchase equivalent to C$1.40 per share of HRG. That valued HRG at C$1.18 billion. To consolidate the minority shareholders, and absorb HRG entirely into Nord Gold – with the aim of lifting the latter’s struggling share price and worsening financial performance– Mordashov with 75% of the HRG shares in hand needs to have his bid accepted by another 15%. If he can reach or cross the 90% stake threshold, under Canadian takeover rules the remaining shareholders can be squeezed out by a mandatory buyout. As told in this sequence, the opposition to Mordashov has been successful so far in denying him the prize.
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NORD GOLD HIDES IN PLAIN SIGHT FROM HIGH RIVER GOLD

By John Helmer, Moscow

It takes a Russian to know how to build a Potemkin village, and hide behind it. It takes Alexei Mordashov to answer questions through a telephone number that rings in Amsterdam only to be relayed to a Moscow office, where the person in charge hangs up the receiver. That’s a false front that doesn’t deserve Count Potemkin’s name tag.

Mordashov is the owner of Nord Gold, the struggling goldminer spun out of the Severstal steel group. Since July 18, Nord Gold has been tabling an offer to buy out the minority shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG), the richest of the assets in the Nord Gold portfolio. Tabling isn’t quite what has happened. That’s because there won’t be an official offer to buy the remaining HRG shares until a purportedly independent valuation of HRG is completed and the share price offer put into a circular. That is a paper which Mordashov is promising to despatch to the hold-out HRG shareholders sometime soon. For the July 18 proposal, and the reaction of the market, read this.
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WHILE RUSAL BURNS, DERIPASKA PUTS GERMAN INSTEAD OF CHINAMAN IN RUSAL CHAIR

By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal, the Jersey-registered aluminium monopoly of Russia, has announced that “Mr Barry Cheung resigns as Chairman of the Company with effect from 1 October 2012, but will remain as an independent non-executive director of the Company. The Board is pleased to announce that Mr Matthias Warnig, an independent non-executive director of the Company, has been appointed as Chairman of the Company with effect from 1 October 2012.”
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MOSCOW TIMES AWARDS ITSELF THE BO PEEP PRIZE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Journalists arranging tuxedo events to give themselves prizes are even sillier than Hollywood actors at the Oscar ceremony. There are also no comedians to tell jokes to neutralize the gastroenteric reflex that is always brought on in audiences by a surfeit of brown-nosing. For the British children in the audience who don’t know what that term means, the Private Eye term is the more onomatopoetic — arslikhan.

Meg Bortin, the second editor of the Moscow Times and one of the shortest termers, has been rolled out for today’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Times. The true anniversary actually fell in March, eight months ago. But if that was the point from which to hang the anniversary celebration, Bortin couldn’t call herself the “founding editor in chief”.
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ZIYAVUDIN MAGOMEDOV ADVERTISES A PHANTOM FLEET POWERED BY FUEL PRODUCED BY ALEXEI MILLER AT A PARANORMAL GAZPROM REFINERY

By John Helmer, Moscow

Gazprom, Russia’s largest company, has announced a plan to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) it isn’t producing to terminals piping ship fuel into a fleet of vessels which the Summa Capital group, directed by Ziyavudin Magomedov, would like to operate — only they don’t exist either. The scheme is more environmentally friendly than any in Russian naval history, only it is a fiction. Why?

The official announcement appeared in Moscow on September 20. Gazprom and Summa Group had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the announcement said, “fix[ing] the intentions of the parties to arrange cooperation for LNG utilization as a bunker fuel for marine vessels, including those owned and operated by Summa Group. In the first instance, Gazprom Group and Summa Group will consider the possibility of cooperation in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea regions. Apart from LNG supplies for Summa Group needs, the parties will consider potential development of the bunkering infrastructure in the North and Baltic Seas, particularly LNG storage facilities.”
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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
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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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