THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE – PRESIDENT PUTIN HAS NOT MET ALISHER USMANOV, EVER

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the research for its profile on Alisher Usmanov, BBC Radio-4 was told by its sources in Russia that claims Usmanov is close to the Kremlin have been invented; and that Usmanov has never been granted a personal audience with President (Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin.

The BBC programme was broadcast on April 28. For the story and the soundtrack, click here.

The BBC researchers were unable in time to verify that Usmanov has never met Putin in a one-on-one session. So that part of the interview material was omitted from the broadcast. The day after, Usmanov’s spokesman Yulia Mazanova has responded: “Regarding meetings of AB Usmanov with Russian President Vladimir Putin, I can report that Mr Usmanov as a member of the Board of RSPP [Russian Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists] regularly participates in the meetings of the President of Russia Mr. Putin and the Russian business community.”
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BBC PROFILE OF ALISHER USMANOV – LORD MYNERS LETS THE BANK OUT OF THE BAG

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alisher Usmanov’s fortune began with a business of making plastic bags when they were in short supply in Moscow in the last days of the USSR. At least, that’s the asset in the self-start, self-made fortune story which reporters for global rich lists have been persuaded to believe about Usmanov. How much capital he accumulated in plastic bags and how this recommended him as a debt collector for Rem Vyakhirev and others in the early Gazprom leadership – Usmanov’s next step up the fortune ladder — have yet to be clarified.

Last autumn there was also much the UK Financial Services Authority (now renamed Financial Conduct Authority) and the UK Listing Authority wanted to be clarified, because the UK regulators refused to allow Usmanov’s telecommunications company Megafon to make its initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange. Earlier UK refusals to allow Usmanov to sell shares in his iron-ore mines and steelmills through the Metalloinvest holding weighed on that judgement. The story of how the “clarifications” were added to the prospectus, and the Megafon share sale allowed, has been told here and here.
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THE HISTORY OF PENIS ENVY IN RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

At the freedom-flush Moscow parties of the 1990s, I was never sure whether Alexander Venediktov (2) was real, or a Vladimir Mamyshev-Monroe (1) impersonation. Mamyshev-Monroe died last month in what is described as a shallow swimming pool in Indonesia. Venediktov is alive, and like Mamyshev-Monroe does his radio turns on Ekho-Moskvy as performance art. At least those two are/were genuine Russians. There’s a pseudo-Russian in London, calling himself Peter Pomerantsev (3), who claims to have been exiled from Russia at the age of 11 months. He lionizes all that’s bad about Russia for the delectation of the English intelligentsia reading literary papers. He can’t be a Mamyshev-Monroe impersonation; he could be Masha Gessen (4), who does a similar turn for the American intelligentsia, in drag.

Pomerantsev has produced a diary for the current issue of the London Review of Books in which, after a potted version of the last quarter-century of Russian history, he concludes that Mamyshev-Monore and Boris Berezovsky “defined post-Soviet Russia”. By that he means the faker Mamyshev-Monroe (aka performance artiste) was more real than targets like Vladimir Putin whom he mocked. “What place”, Pommy concludes rhetorically, “could he have in a Russia where to watch a grotesque piece of performance art you just had to switch on the news?”
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THE MAN IN THE MOON – MIKHAIL PROKHOROV’S INTERGEO FAILS IN TORONTO FOR THE SECOND TIME

By John Helmer, Moscow

At a physicists’ teaparty, Albert Einstein once asked Niels Bohr whether the two of them should accept that “the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it.” Bohr’s reply was that, hard as Einstein might try, so long as the moon was accompanied by noone, Einstein’s proof would be hard to come by.

As a businessman selling off visible assets for cash in the bank, Mikhail Prokhorov is rapidly becoming just such an unprovable moon. So Einstein to Bohr, he’s agreed with his trusted friend and manager, Dmitry Razumov, managing director of the Onexim holding in Moscow, to issue a public strategy statement and give the former’s lunacy more credibility. According to Razumov, the two of them speak once every two or three weeks, depending on Prokhorov’s phases. “He is completely away from the daily management of work items. He did not meet with the management; he isn’t included in the [Onexim] board of directors. However, he is still the main beneficiary. We are meeting relatively regularly to discuss politics and the economy.” Based on paper values, and before counting the impact of commodity price falls, Razumov says Onexim is worth between $13 billion and $15 billion. Here is the April 24 interview.
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LIFEBUOY MEASURES AT ALROSA – DID FYODOR ANDREYEV BEG NICKY OPPENHEIMER TO INFLATE HIS SHARE PRICE?

By John Helmer, Moscow

If necessity is generally judged to be the mother of invention, crude invention – the fake that is exposed swiftly – is generally the product of desperate mothers. The idea that the Oppenheimer family is keen to buy Alrosa shares, reported by one Moscow business newspaper yesterday and reinforced by another, was regarded as ludicrous by miners and diamantaires who know the circumstances in which Nicky Oppenheimer (image centre) and De Beers were ousted from their last Russian venture in 2008. But a little checking by the Moscow reporters should have turned up the evidence that such a deal, even the faintest interest in it, is also impossible until at least August 15, 2014. So who in Moscow is so desperate as to promote an impossible sale of Alrosa shares? And what does a display of desperation do to the future share price?

The Oppenheimers were pushed out of Russia in 2008 in circumstances which have never been publicly admitted. LUKoil’s controlling shareholder, Vagit Alekperov, the De Beers joint-venture partner initially approved by then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, had a hand in it. So did Alrosa, then ruled by Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin. Between the three of them, the formal approval by the government’s Control Commission to authorize the mining of the Grib pipe in Arkhangelsk, was privately reversed, first by delay, then on a technicality, and finally by the writing on the wall. Since the same cast of characters is still running the same business in the same way – expect Kudrin’s return shortly – the Oppenheimers can be certain there is noone in Russia whose word could reliably safeguard their investment.
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US COURT RULES RUSAL’S RTI IS A PHANTOM, NOT A FRIENDLY GHOST

By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal has been defeated in a brief but powerful ruling by the US Court of Appeals in New York last week. The order by three judges, issued on April 15, quashes a lower-level US court order for discovery of bank and other evidence against shipping companies Rusal used to transport its bauxite and alumina cargoes a decade ago. That was when Andrei Raikov, former friend of chief executive Oleg Deripaska, headed the company’s procurement division, and Dmitry Osipov ran the shipping companies.

In a blow against Rusal’s offshore structure on the English Channel island of Jersey, the court ruled that RTI (aka Rusal Trading International) fails the legal and statutory tests to qualify on Rusal’s behalf in litigation in the US courts. “We conclude that the present factual record does not support a finding that RTI is an ‘interested person’ with respect to the relevant foreign proceedings,” says the order signed by Judges Robert Katzmann, Barrington Parker, and Miriam Cedarbaum. “We further reject RTI’s argument that it qualifies as an interested person because, by virtue of its corporate relationships, it now oversees the business operations at issue in the foreign proceedings.”
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IGOR ZYUZIN’S SUBTERFUGE – WHY MECHEL SHAREHOLDERS DON’T REALIZE THE COMPANY HAS BEEN NATIONALIZED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Igor Zyuzin (right) is almost entirely dependent on the Russian government for the solvency of his Mechel steelmaking and coalmining group. With between $9 billion and $10 billion in debt, Zyuzin, who owns 65.49% of Mechel’s shares and controls the company as chairman of its board, is now the steel and coal sector’s most heavily indebted proprietor. If not for a series of cash loans, bond purchases and guarantees from state-controlled banks – Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), and Transcreditbank – he would be bankrupt.

That is, Mechel, with a bottom-line loss last year of $1.7 billion, would be as bankrupt as the Estar group of steelmills, which Zyuzin took over in 2009, when Estar’s proprietor Vadim Varshavsky went bankrupt. Varshavsky was consigned by state officials and the state banks to go belly up for debts of about $3 billion. Zyuzin has been preserved in his place for three times that debt. He has also been permitted to buy Varshavsky’s old assets at a fraction of their value, using tolling schemes which may be considered asset stripping, a form of larceny, outside Russia — if their terms were known. In other words, Varshavsky’s insolvent steelmills appear to be paying Zyuzin to take them over for Mechel.
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EVRAZ REPORTS WEAKENING SUPPORT FOR HIGHVELD SALE IN SOUTH AFRICA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Announcing its sale of the South African asset, Highveld Steel & Vanadium, to Nemascore, a company created just weeks before, Evraz issued the following announcement: “EVRAZ announces intention to sell its South African steel mill. EVRAZ plc…announces the signing of a non-binding term sheet in respect of the proposed sale of its 85% stake in EVRAZ Highveld Steel and Vanadium Limited (“EVRAZ Highveld”) to Nemascore (Pty) Ltd, black economic empowerment consortium, for an indicative cash consideration of approximately US$320 million (the “Transaction”). EVRAZ will utilise the sale proceeds for general corporate purposes.” That was on March 27.

Yesterday, April 18, the company referred in a quarterly report of its production results to the following “recent development”: “In March 2013 Evraz executed a non-binding term sheet for potential sale of Evraz Highveld.”
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KPMG AUDIT REPORT ON RUSAL’S NIGERIAN SMELTER REVEALS ASSET STRIPPING

By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal appears to have been stripping assets from the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon) at the same time as it was creating large loan obligations which the loss-making smelter has little chance of repaying.

Public protests got under way at Alscon, which is located at Ikot Abasi, in the southernmost corner of the country, after Rusal announced on March 26 it was sacking most of Alscon’s workforce. On April 14, Bassey Udo, a leading investigative journalist in Nigeria and business editor for The Premium Times in Abuja, reported details of the annual Alscon company report for 2011. This is the most recent annual report from Alscon on file. The details have been retrieved from the records of Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission. KPMG, which is the designated auditor for Rusal’s consolidated financial reports, refuses to confirm that it provided a qualified report and notes to the Alscon filing. Udo reports he obtained the filing on application to CAC. Read Udo’s full report here.
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THE INNER CIRCLE AT RUSAL — OLEG DERIPASKA’S SCHEME TO FAVOUR HIS TRUST SHAREHOLDERS AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE

By John Helmer, Moscow

When Oleg Mukhamedshin, head of investment strategy for United Company Rusal, was in London recently, he complained the stock market isn’t giving Rusal’s share price a fair valuation, taking into account how much profit the non-aluminium line of business – that’s the dividend to be paid to Rusal by Norilsk Nickel — is likely to generate this year for Rusal’s loss-making bottom line. What Mukhamedshin didn’t mention is that the market suspects Oleg Deripaska, chief executive and manager of the controlling shareholders’ trust, of operating a scheme to protect asset value and income for an inner circle of Rusal shareholders, and let all other shareholders suffer the worst.

Initial evidence of the inner circle scheme was first uncovered in the records of RTI Limited (aka Rusal International Trading), a Jersey Island-registered entity which appears to be the next to highest control entity in Rusal’s corporate organization. Registered on October 27, 2006, one day after the parent company was incorporated in Jersey, RTI’s carefully worded articles of association contain a code which provides privileged treatment for one class of Rusal shares at the expense of the founding shareholders; the latter include Mikhail Prokhorov, Victor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik, and Glencore; and the shareholders who “anchored” Rusal’s Hong Kong Stock market listing in January of 2010, including the Russian state banks.
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SOUTH AFRICA’S CAPTAIN NEMO TO GUARANTEE EVRAZ SALE OF HIGHVELD STEEL, VTB LOAN REPAYMENT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Nemascore, the South African buyer of Evraz Highveld, the loss-making steel and vanadium producer, is run by a part-time lawyer, a part-time entrepreneur, and the part-time executive of Fire Check, a Durban-based company specializing for the past twenty years in installing home and office fire alarms around that east coast city.

One of this trio has acknowledged that to find $320 million — the price Nemascore has agreed to pay Evraz for the loss-making Highveld — it is negotiating with the South African government’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to guarantee repayment of a loan for the transaction amount. That loan, according to other SA sources, is to be issued by Russia’s state-controlled bank, VTB. Why everything else is secret about a deal which (apparently) repatriates to South African ownership a well-known steelmaking company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is a deep-six mystery. Read the story so far here.
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INVIDIOUS CHOICE – THE INDIAN, THE CHINAMAN, OR THE WHITE MAN (IGOR ZYUZIN)

By John Helmer, Moscow

Igor Zyuzin’s desperately indebted steel and coal-mining group Mechel is negotiating the sale of a 25% shareholding stake in Mechel Mining, his coal division, for $1.25 billion. That’s a fraction – maybe half — of what it was worth two years ago.

Would such a loss of capital value, and the still uncounted costs of Mechel’s unfinished, non-operational ElgaUgol coalmine in the Sakha republic have materialized if, instead of Zyuzin (left), the Kremlin had decided in October 2007 to award the project concession to the high bidder at the time, Lakshmi Mittal (centre)? Does anyone in the Kremlin believe today that the discount for ElgaUgol which Baosteel, China’s leading steelmaker, is about to extract from Zyuzin has been worth the six-year wait? Will President Vladimir Putin, who has been in charge of the milestones of wealth accumulation and loss marking Zyuzin’s career so far, instruct the government’s Control Commission to vote in favour of this strategic resource acquisition by the Chinese? And if the Chinese are acceptable as coalmining partners now, why weren’t the Indians in 2007?
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THE BABY KILLERS – PAVLIK MOROZOV RETURNS WITH A VENGEANCE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Pavel (Pavlik) Morozov, aged 14, was murdered on September 3, 1932, along with his 9-year old brother, Fyodor. They were stabbed to death. Four people were convicted of the crimes – their grandfather Sergei and cousin Danila did the stabbing; uncle Arseny plotted the crime beforehand; grandmother Kseniya covered it up afterwards. The four were executed on April 7, 1933. Retrospectively, the forensic evidence in the case was too weak to substantiate premeditated murder, but of hatred, manslaughter, and criminal concealment there is no doubt the four accused were guilty.

Of the importance of what Pavlik Morozov’s death stood for at the time and for the all-Russia, all-Soviet generation to follow there is also no doubt. He was, as his British biographer has documented, the Soviet revolution’s boy martyr. That’s because Pavlik Morozov was reported to have been killed because he had informed on his father, Trofim, chairman of his village soviet, as well as on others in the village, whom he accused of hoarding grain from the harvest, hiding a gun and a horse harness, plotting against the new collective property rules. When his murderers were brought to trial, the charge against them wasn’t conventional homicide, but anti-state terrorism. Thus, Pavlik’s death came to symbolize far more than could possibly have been true.
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CROCODILE TEARS, CROCODILE SMILES – THE CASE OF IGOR SHUVALOV

By John Helmer, Moscow

Though their meaning and intent are identical, crocodiles are better known for their tears than for their smiles. So are Russian officials. Take Igor Shuvalov, the first deputy prime minister, for example.

When the chief executive of one of the largest mining companies in the world came to Moscow, a member of his entourage recalls, the senior government official he was scheduled to meet was Shuvalov. But the latter kept him waiting in the anteroom to his office. When Shuvalov finally appeared, the source remembers, “he apologized for keeping us waiting. He smiled.” Nothing concrete or valuable materialized at the meeting, nor since. But Shuvalov is remembered for smiling. The reason is that the chief executive of one of the largest mining companies in the world believes Russian officials never smile.
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OUT OF AFRICA, BACK TO AFRICA — ALROSA RESUMES OFFSHORE MONEYSPINNERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alrosa is reopening its African business but there is no song and dance yet. The chief executive, Fyodor Andreyev, is in Angola this week, the company has confirmed, and is discussing with state diamond company Endiama the formation of joint ventures to explore for diamonds on the Angolan-Congolese border. Similar exploration ventures are being planned with Botswana Diamonds Plc and an unidentified company in Zimbabwe. Andreyev’s negotiations are the result of a still secret shift in Alrosa’s policy towards capital expenditure outside the republic of Sakha.

According to the company announcement on April 2, “in the near future, ALROSA’s geologists will conduct preliminary work to assess the areas most promising in terms of potential discovery of a primary diamond deposit.”
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EVRAZ SELLS LOSS-MAKING SOUTH AFRICAN HIGHVELD STEEL, BUT THE PRICE IS CAUSING SPECULATION, MAKE THAT SUSPICION

By John Helmer, Moscow

If 85% of something was worth $320 million on March 27, then full value would be about $377 million. And if that something is identified as Highveld Steel & Vanadium Ltd. — a major South African producer of flat steel products and vanadium with which to harden steel — then how come that two days before, on March 25, the thing was valued on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange at just $140 million?

That Russians should want to sell at a 269% premium is plain. But if the evidence on the South African buyer’s side seems to defy commercial sense, two obvious questions follow — who in South Africa would agree to pay over the top for the asset, and why? The answer to the first adds mystery to the second – noone appears to know who the South African buyer really is.
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.

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