Do snaps of businessmen playing cards, or dancing the lezginka together, prove they are in a concert-party relationship which is an unauthorized way of making money, according to Rule 9 of the Takeover Code for companies listed on the London Stock Exchange — if they keep it secret from other shareholders?
Zelimkhan Mutsoev (left and centre, upper and lower images), Gavriil Yushvaev (right, right) and Suleiman Kerimov (centre, left) were all born in the Caucasus within a decade of each other. As grown-ups they have taken different career paths, and they have made large sums of money independently. Two of them, Mutsoev and Kerimov, have also acted together to take over Russia’s second potash producer Silvinit, merge it with the leader Uralkali, and create a Russian potash monopoly. The Federal Antimonopoly Service found no infraction of Russian rules in that. But if they are now trying the same thing to acquire Mikhail Prokhorov’s 38% stake in Polyus Gold, Russia’s leading goldminer, and then merge it with Polymetal, the UK rules apply because both Polyus Gold and Polymetal are premium listings on the LSE. (more…)
Russia’s state aluminium monopoly, United Company Rusal, has requested the help of the federal US court in Los Angeles in an attempt to delay or prevent the Nigerian courts and Nigerian government returning the country’s sole aluminium smelter to the Nigerian-American company which originally won the privatization auction of the asset in 2004, before losing it to Rusal.
Scheduled for hearing on February 12, the Rusal move may backfire, as similar legal tactics have already gone against Rusal last year in New York. Whether the Los Angeles court rules in favour of or against Rusal, it is likely to trigger parallel applications throughout the US for evidence disclosure orders by the US courts in support of other international lawsuits against Rusal companies, bank accounts, and Oleg Deripaska, the Kremlin’s trustee for the shareholder trust which controls the group. (more…)
You don’t have to be a commercial rival of Ziyavudin Magomedov to notice that the billion-dollar business ventures he promises to deliver often fail to materialize. There was his claim, for example, that with his control stake of the United Grain Company (OZK is the Russian acronym), he intended to bid for control of an Australian grain company GrainCorp. There was the promise of coal and grain terminals on Russia’s fareastern coast. Then there was the fleet of tankers to carry oil between Russia’s northern ports and Rotterdam, powered by the latest liquefied natural gas technology. Not one of those claims has materialized.
What then of Magomedov’s promise to the Rotterdam port authority, reported by Dutch sources, that if he was granted permission to build a new oil terminal, he would fill it with an extra 30,000 tonnes per year (600,000 barrels per day)? The port authority has done what it said it would do – Magomedov has his terminal permit and a deadline of two years in which to start stocking and transhipping oil. But can he deliver? Where will the extra Russian crude supplies come from, especially since the Russian oil majors, like Rosneft, LUKoil, Surgutneftegaz, Gazpromneft, and Bashneft, have their own Rotterdam plans, and no interest in sharing their profit with Magomedov? A leading European oil shipment expert says: “In my understanding, Mr Magomedov is a bubble blower.” (more…)
Russia employs a special representative to Africa, Mikhail Margelov (rear window), whose best known statement of the policy he represents is: “Russia has returned to Africa, and Africa to Russia.” Margelov doesn’t answer questions about what this means. He was scarcely more explicit when he was the Russian negotiator for Muammar Qaddafi’s exit from Libya – “the most delicate topic” he called it in June 2011. Four months later Qaddafi was shot dead trying to escape.
Libya had been the largest debtor in Africa owing money to Russia; in 2008 then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (centre window, right) announced that Russia was writing off $4.5 billion, all of the debt accepted by both sides, on condition that the Libyans agreed to offset the write-off with contracts to buy arms, railways, power plants, and gas production ventures worth roughly twice that amount. (more…)
Russian oil company LUKoil plans to launch commercial production of diamonds at its Grib diamond mine in September, the company confirms. It is the first diamond mine to be opened in Russia since Alrosa, the state diamond miner, commissioned the Nyurba mine in Sakha in 2003. Alrosa’s Lomonosov diamond mine, less than 50 kilometres from the Grib site, has been in development since 2005, and the first stripping for the Botyubinskaya mine in Yakutia commenced last month.
On LUKoil’s and Alrosa’s current estimates, the Grib mine with 98 million carats holds roughly twice the volume of mineable diamonds compared to Lomonosov next door. Grib ranks fourth in size of reserves on the table of Russia’s diamond mines, after Udachny, Jubilee, and Mir, all being worked by Alrosa in Sakha. (more…)
Noone at Davos this week owes as much money to as many banks, and has escaped as many default notices, as Oleg Deripaska, the Kremlin’s trustee for the state aluminium monopoly United Company Rusal. No surprise then that as he flew into Zurich enroute for this week’s World Economic Forum, the Sky television network broadcast an interview in which Deripaska attacked the UK Financial Services Authority for being “too conservative”; claimed London-based financial institutions are “not so attractive” as their US counterparts for raising new loans; and advised the British government to “listen better to City [of London] bankers.”
Playing the US government off against the British, Deripaska said he prefers the “great opportunity” in the US, “the cheapest cost of capital”, and an attitude towards him which is “very open”.
Deripaska wasn’t referring to the recent opening in New York of his own secret financial records. The Sky reporter didn’t know to ask about them. Deripaska’s collocutors in Davos ought to be better informed. (more…)
Most American geopolitical risk analysts live in a row of northeastern towns far from the tornado belt. So they don’t understand what sowing the wind, reaping the whirlwind means. The Anglo-American strategists who thought it clever strategy to launch a little war in Libya, kill Muammar Qaddafi, and help themselves to the new regime’s oil and gas concessions are slow to follow that the whirlwind there is now blowing south and westward. Last year in Mali, last week in Algeria, soon (again) in Nigeria. Attacks on the wellhead, refinery or pipeline – gas or oil – will soon enough reveal how counter-productive are Francois Hollande’s bombers and paras; and by contrast, how fulsome and stable Russian gas supplies, natural or liquefied, will prove to be, when the whirlwind really starts blowing across the Sahara towards central Africa’s energy exporters.
Business risk analysts do better at wind detection — time to go short on energy companies with west and north African exposure; go long on Gazprom, Novatek, Rosneft. Alexei Miller, Leonid Mikhelson, Gennady Timchenko and Igor Sechin are crying all the way to the bank. (more…)
At your peril, the one thing you must never say to a ranking Israeli intelligence officer, even one in mufti or retirement, is that he is suffering from a superiority complex. For the clinical symptoms of the affliction include conceptual deafness, ideological blindness. These stem from the frontal-lobe idea that the victim earned victory over his adversaries by his own wits; that those wits are unbeatable; and that accordingly he can never be bested or made to look stupid or act the fool.
In strategy, this leads to the first law of Barnum (of American circus fame) – there is a sucker born every minute. The second Barnum law is that the first starts with yourself. (more…)
The old oligarchs, and several new aspirants, have a new playground in the Russian transportation sector, where their profits are guaranteed by the state budget. Carrying cargo from mine and wellhead to plant and port, and back again from port to market, is already profitable in conventional terms, and so the state assets, once part of the state railways monopoly, are the target of active lobbying for special favour. Carrying passengers around the biggest conurbation in the country – Moscow – is another target. But because passenger fares are regulated and subsidized by the state, the profitability of transporting them is more restricted than cargo transportation. It is also better hidden. Still, the game rules for privatization are the same as they were in the natural resource, energy and mining sectors – buy cheap (corruptly), sell dear (offshore).
In general, purchasing assets from the state on the cheap means the acquiescence of state officials in low-ball privatizations, or non-competitive “strategic placements”, paid with state bank loans on soft securization terms, subsidized interest rates, non-market repayment guarantees: everyone knows these are administrative measures requiring extras. (more…)
Last month Oleg Deripaska authorized a Washington lobbyist he employs to submit to the US Department of Justice the claim that Deripaska meets with American “businesspeople to assess economic development in the United States in connection with his role as an economic advisor to the President of the Russian Federation.”
The lobbyist Adam Waldman is paid $40,000 per month, plus expenses, from the offshore revenues of United Company Rusal to make this claim part of a case Deripaska has advanced in Washington for several years, trying to overturn the US Government ban on his receiving a regular visa for entry to the country. (more…)
The Russian tactic of giving an adversary an exit through which to escape was coined by Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov (left) during the war against Napoleon. He called it the “pont d’or” (golden bridge). The meaning was that Napoleon and his army should be allowed to retreat out of Russia, harassed, starved, diminished, but not annihilated. Kutuzov’s reasoning was strategic. It was not worth the risk and cost to the Russian army of a struggle to the death with the French. Worse, Kutuzov thought, if Napoleon were totally destroyed, there would be nothing to stop the British from emerging to threaten Russia more powerfully than the French had been capable of.
“You don’t realize,” Kutuzov talking to a subordinate in November 1812, as Napoleon and his stragglers crossed the Dnieper river, “that circumstances will in and of themselves achieve more than our troops.And we ourselves must not arrive on our borders as emaciated tramps.” And in a put-down of Sir Robert Wilson, a known English spy at the tsar’s field headquarters: “I am by no means sure that the total destruction of the Emperor Napoleon and his army would be of such benefit to the world; his succession would not fall to Russia or any other continental power, but to that which commands the sea, and whose domination would then be intolerable.”
Is the golden bridge still a doctrine of Russian strategy, and if so, who will express it? (more…)
A donation of $2,500 to the “Obama Victory Fund”, the US president’s election campaign fund, was made on October 12, 2012, by an American lobbyist engaged by Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov. This is according to a filing last month by the US agent acting for Lavrov named Adam Waldman. He reported the payment to the Foreign Agents Registration Act Unit, a branch of the National Security Division of the US Department of Justice on December 19. Direct or indirect political donations by foreign nationals are illegal under US election financing law and its regulations.
The money trail which linked Lavrov to Barack Obama’s campaign treasury goes through a company registered on the Channel Island of Jersey. That in turn conceals secret shareholders of United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly controlled by Oleg Deripaska. At least one of those shareholders may be another Russian government official of higher rank than Lavrov’s. (more…)
Patrick Leigh Fermor (d. June 11, 2011) was to travelogues what Christopher Hitchens (d. December 15, 2011) was to journalism – a race to show off. Veracity was always a scratching if verisimilitude would run better – and if serious money was at stake. Heiresses made the best mounts, and once in the saddle, Leigh Fermor’s grip, compared to Hitchens’s, was the firmer; though their prolix charm had the same finishing line. Leigh Fermor, according to Somerset Maugham, was “a middle class gigolo for upper class women”.
Between the legs of princesses there may not be much a British hero can learn that he can’t acquire by galloping his horse and discharging his weapon at common or garden beasts – pheasants, rabbits, foxes, and Transylvanian crayfishes. Leigh Fermor did all of that. But in spite, or perhaps because of, his entire five-year war against the Germans, he fired only once, killing Yannis Tsangarakis, a Cretan member of the partisan unit Leigh Fermor, a junior officer in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), was supposed to be leading. The shooting is now accepted as an accident. (more…)
When it comes to laughing at satire and caricature, tastes change. Laughable drunkenness in one generation is as hilarious as the comedians Yury Nikulin, Georgiy Vitsin, and Yevgeny Morgunov were on the Soviet screen together. Nowadays the display of alcoholism is sad – take the Russian movie actor Gerard Depardieu, for example. Likewise, it hasn’t encouraged the current generation of book readers that Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin used to make Vladimir Lenin laugh; and that when they were students, Lenin’s brother Alexander and sister Anna used to visit the writer in his old age at home in Tver. Russian interpreters these days warn against reading the old man because the social conditions he made fun of have long ceased to exist. (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.