SERGEI FRANK TAKES ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK — RUSSIAN COMPETITION WATCHDOG CAUTIOUS ON ARCTIC LNG TANKER PLAN

one_step_two_steps

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Russian government’s competition watchdog is waiting for state tanker company Sovcomflot and gas exporter Novatek to clarify exactly what plan they have decided on for liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from Sabetta, Russia’s newest gas export outlet on the eastern shore of Yamal and the Kara Sea. Sovcomflot said last week it has signed with Novatek an undertaking to cooperate on a feasibility study of two tankers for shipment of LNG, once Novatek launches shipments from its Yamal gasfield and refinery in three to four years’ time.

A press release from Sovcomflot said that state-owned lender Vnesheconombank (VEB) “is to look into the possibility of financing the construction of two ‘pilot’ liquefied natural gas carriers for the Yamal LNG project. Sovcomflot has confirmed its interest in operating the new vessels as a bareboat charterer and technical manager.” According to Sergei Frank, Sovcomflot’s chief executive, “we are confident that our long-standing experience of Arctic shipping…will ensure we cope successfully with the task of providing uninterrupted LNG transportation, in the challenging climatic conditions of the Yamal Peninsula.”
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KOROS, RUSAL TRACKER FUND, STRUCK OFF THE UK COMPANY REGISTER

indian_deripaska

By John Helmer, Moscow

Koros Trading Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), a false front company created in London to receive regular monthly payments of millions of dollars from Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly, has been struck off the UK Companies Register for failing to report its annual revenues and income.

Details of Koros transactions have revealed more than $25 million in payments for which sources claim there is no trading, supply or services agreement. The sources believe the money was illegally paid; they suspect the Swiss bank account receiving the funds was a conduit to a beneficiary unwilling to disclose his identity.
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THE SNOWDEN DISCLOSURES — HOW THE GCHQ INTERCEPT SYSTEM EXPOSED A RUSSIAN TELEPHONE CALL

snowden

By John Helmer, Moscow

It has been known for a long time that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been intercepting millions of Russian telephone calls, SMS texts and internet traffic, along with the communications of other target nationals, including Americans and the British themselves. Older eavesdropping operations, such as ECHELON, have been documented by European Parliament investigations. More recent operations, such as PRISM and TEMPORA, have been confirmed by the former National Security Agency (NSA) contract agent, Edward Snowden, whose disclosures substantiate the methodology of surveillance, the range of data produced, targeting, sorting, and purported value.

ECHELON snooped on satellite traffic; PRISM on internet data from server companies; and TEMPORA, a telephone surveillance operation, tapped international fibre-optic cables. The signal collection stations are in all sorts of places, including the US, Puerto Rico, Cyprus, Japan, Germany, Canada, UK, and Australia. The Snowden material is up to two years old; the operations he has documented date from about 2007.
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MYRE SEADIVER CREW GETS PARTIAL DISMISSAL, NIGERIAN COURT SCHEDULES LAST HEARING

open your door

By John Helmer, Moscow

In a hearing in a Lagos court yesterday, Nigerian judge James Tsoho dismissed all charges against eight of the 15 Russian crewmen on the Myre Seadiver, a security support vessel arrested by the Nigerian Navy last October. At the time, the vessel, which had arrived with Nigerian Navy and Lagos port approvals on September 19, had rotated 11 mariners back to Moscow, and taken on board their replacements; they arrived by plane with visas issued by the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow.
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BLIND TRUST — SIBERIAN ANTHRACITE TRIES SELLING ITS SHARES FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME, WITHOUT AUDITED FINANCIAL REPORTS, CONSOLIDATION OF TRADING SCHEMES, OR DISCLOSURE OF OWNERSHIP

trust_me

By John Helmer, Moscow

It isn’t known whether Dmitry Shatokhin (right), the chief executive, board chairman, and apparent control shareholder of Siberian Anthracite, reads the news. Not the commodity price reports showing that the demand and price for the coal he is selling are falling. Rather, the news that President Vladimir Putin, along with the heads of the other G8 governments, agreed formally this week to put a stop to concealment of beneficiary ownership of public companies, and of the trust, tax and trading schemes by which hidden owners cheat public shareholders.

According to the G8 communique, “a lack of knowledge about who ultimately controls, owns and profits from companies and legal arrangements, including trusts, not only assists those who seek to evade tax, but also those who seek to launder the proceeds of crime, often across borders. We will make a concerted and collective effort to tackle this issue and improve the transparency of companies and legal arrangements. Improving transparency will also improve the investment climate.” If that’s the standard, how come Siberian Anthracite refuses to publish audited financial reports and won’t disclose the shareholding structure of the company?
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THE SYRIAN WAR – THE LOGIC OF PUTIN’S ANGER

putins

By John Helmer, Moscow

By the conventional polling and political measures, President Vladimir Putin ought to be the most relaxed figure at the G8 summit meeting in Ireland. If he wanted to, he might look straight at the cameras and tell the world he shares their opposition to starting another war in the string of wars the NATO alliance has already lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; and is now threatening in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey too, not to mention Mali.

Instead, Putin displayed an unusual set of body signals rarely seen at events like these, or at his bilateral meetings with the same set of characters. Was he nervous, irritated, or plain angry?
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RUSAL AGM DEFENDS SHARE LOSS DIRECTORS, AS RUSAL SLIPS BELOW ZERO WORTH – PLAN FOR DEBT BUYOUT AND CONVERSION OF RUSAL DEBT TO EQUITY CHALLENGES KREMLIN TO DROP THE RTI SHAREHOLDER TRUST

By John Helmer, Moscow

Rusal’s share price collapsed through the four-dollar threshold today, as the release of results at Friday’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Rusal shareholders revealed that the company is planning to use its shrinking cash reserves to try to prop up its share price.

In a dramatic warning issued in Moscow at the same time, Otkritie Capital warned current shareholders to sell. Rusal, according to Otkritie, is now “too illiquid and expensive to short given the lack of real catalysts, but we would avoid the stock on valuation grounds.” A Citi source has reiterated the US bank’s forecast of HK$1.80 as Rusal’s target share price, adding that since Citi’s April 18 assessment of Rusal “nothing has changed”.
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NEW YORK PUNT — LUXOFT ASKS $84 MILLION FOR A BET ON THE PERSONAL QUALITIES OF ANATOLY KARACHINSKY

football_luxoft

By John Helmer, Moscow

You could pack your bathing togs, sunglasses and sailing cap, and thus attired pay a call at 24 De Castro Street, in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, to drop your eighteen dollars off personally. This would be more fun than calling your stockbroker to put the money on buying a share in Luxoft in its initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange this week. The BVI address is where Luxoft, a Russian computer programmer and software developer, is registered. The sailing weather is milder than the Isle of Man, in the English Channel, where Luxoft’s controlling shareholder, the IBS group, is based.

IBS and Luxoft are hoping to collect as much as $84 million on the share punt. Punt is the word for the IPO, which beats all previous Russian IPOs in leaving the control shareholders and Russia’s state bank VTB with 98.5% of the voting shares of the newly listed company. The tiny 1.5% of voting shares being sold for $84 million also come with the proviso that the payoff for the control shareholders is entirely up front. This, the prospectus explains, is because no future dividend will be paid to the new shareholders. The only gain they can bet on is capital gain on the share price. But that depends on Anatoly Karachinsky (image right), the control shareholder behind both Luxoft and IBS, earning a future profit which he doesn’t plan to share.
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FORGET THE CAMEL AND THE NEEDLE, IS THE KREMLIN LEAVING OPEN THE BACKDOOR FOR DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SHUVALOV, SENATOR KERIMOV?

camel

By John Helmer, Moscow

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” – Jesus Christ

After the ancient Jewish preachers spoke of improbability as elephants trying to navigate needles, the Christians slimmed down to camels. But there was also the post-gospel interpretation that what Jesus actually meant, in that piece of advice to a nervous rich man, was a gate in Old Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was shut at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it stooped and had its baggage removed. A lot of camel bones have been excavated around Jerusalem, but the small gate hasn’t turned up yet.

By contrast, there are plenty of small gates in the Kremlin wall, and plenty of camels who make it through without having to unload their baggage until they get inside. So is there a small gate in Federal Law (FZ) No. 79, which President Vladimir Putin (image left) signed on May 7, 2013?
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ANDREI MELNICHENKO’S MYSTERY LAWSUIT – SOUTH AFRICANS DENY RUSSIAN MINE CLAIM

mine_claim

By John Helmer, Moscow

Eurochem, a Russian fertilizer miner and manufacturer owned by Andrei Melnichenko, is suing the South African mine technology company Shaft Sinkers for $800 million on account of a mining technology which Eurochem says has failed in Volgograd (image right). Shaft Sinkers says the technology works perfectly well, in Yorkshire (left) for example. $800 million is the sum of Eurochem’s claims. Much less than that is at stake — according to Shaft Sinkers $15 million in unpaid invoices – but also much more, in Kazakhstan, where Eurochem’s plan for a large new phosphate mine is in trouble of another sort. About that Eurochem doesn’t want to talk at all.

In 2008 Eurochem made several announcements about its new potash mine, Gremyachinskoye mine in Volgograd. In the context of Melnichenko’s proposal to reduce his personal exposure in the company, and sell assets to Gazprom or shares to international investors, Eurochem reported growing reserves, speed in mining new output, and jumping sales revenues. Gremyachinskoye was to be commissioned in two stages, start shipping 2.3 million tonnes of potash per annum in 2012, and by 2015 double that volume.
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LUXOFT, OR LUCK’S OFF – WHAT THE DASHBOARD SAYS ABOUT THE RISK OF INVESTING IN THIS LOW-WAGE RUSSIAN OUTSOURCE?

luxoft

By John Helmer, Moscow

If the Union de Banques Suisses (UBS), Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank decided to put their employees in uniform; contracted with a factory in Bangladesh to make the costumes as cheaply as possible; and then floated shares of the Bangladesh Uniform Company (BUC) on an international stock market, taking underwriting fees, capital gains, and dividends as large BUC’s annual profit, would that be a clever line of business? What independent investor would want to buy into such a scheme?

The question arises as a group of Russians spin out of their holding, an Isle of Man entity called IBS, their British Virgin Islands subsidiary called Luxoft, and sell brand new shares of the latter on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation of between $500 million and $1 billion; and with better than 50% capital gain forecast in just six months. If IBS, with a market capitalization on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange of €419 million ($549 million) can double its money by getting UBS to flog off an outsource department, isn’t a share-buyer guaranteed his return so long as the banks renew their outsourcing contracts? Will they do that, though, if the graduate-degree Russians who do the work insist that Luxoft pay them better than grade-school wages?
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RUSAL’S DISAPPEARING TRICK — MILLIONS PAID TO LONDON TRADING COMPANY WITH A TRAIL TO MAURITUS AND BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, BUT NO TRACE OF ALUMINIUM BUSINESS

invisible_man

By John Helmer, Moscow

The scandal surrounding Barry Cheung, the Hong Kong politician and former chairman of United Company Rusal, the state aluminium monopoly, has intensified the interest of shareholders and regulators in spending by Rusal’s chief executive, Oleg Deripaska. The company charter and the Hong Kong listing rules require supervision by the independent directors on the Rusal board’s governance, remuneration and audit committees. But Cheung, a member of the first two, has now resigned. Elsie Leung, a member of the audit committee, is facing a no-confidence motion at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 14.

Newly available evidence suggests that Rusal has made an agreement with a London-registered trader whose business seems to have nothing to do with bauxite, alumina or aluminium; whose accounts fail to reveal millions of dollars it has been receiving from Rusal; and whose UK Companies House registration will be wound up next week if it doesn’t file missing financial reports. According to Rusal insiders and sources familiar with the matter, the transfers were for individual services of multi-million dollar importance.
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VLADIMIR YEVTUSHENKOV HIRES LORD MANDELSON FOR SISTEMA BOARD, SENDS SOS

sistema_board

By John Helmer, Moscow

What can have motivated Vladimir Yevtushenkov (image right) of the Sistema conglomerate of Moscow to hire for his board of directors last week a man who is a magnet for negative British press coverage, and who was judged last year by the UK High Court for an action brought, and lost, by his friend, Nathaniel Rothschild?

The announcement of Lord Peter Mandelson’s (top left) appointment to the Sistema board, replacing Yevgeny Novitsky, was issued last Thursday. The announcement doesn’t explain what was wrong or obsolete with Novitsky’s talents or connexions, about which the Russian press have printed many allegations. Mandelson, on the other hand, is the owner of a small public relations company tied to WPP, an international conglomerate of PR firms controlled by Philip Lader, who sits on Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal board. Lader’s relationship with Mandelson has been described in a WPP press release as “provid[ing] seed capital along with additional benefits in kind including office accommodation”.
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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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