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.”
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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?
(more…)

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?
(more…)

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”.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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?
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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?
(more…)

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.
(more…)

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”.
(more…)

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

(more…)

RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

(more…)

THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

(more…)

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

(more…)

THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

(more…)

RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

(more…)

FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

(more…)

KILLING IS CHEAPER — THE US ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WEAPONIZES TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, WHATSAPP, TELEGRAM

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.

The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory.  The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image).   McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.

Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

(more…)

MARIA YUDINA OUT OF THE DARK – THE RUSSIAN CLASSICAL PIANIST PLAYS AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.

In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.

(more…)
Categories
Archives

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Education Template