HOW TO COUNT ONE TONNE OF ALUMINIUM IN FOUR – GLENCORE AND RUSAL KEEP THE HONG KONG STOCK MARKET GUESSING WHERE THE ALUMINIUM HAS GONE

hk_glencore_rusal

By John Helmer, Moscow

Reports from the Moscow headquarters of United Company Rusal, indicated last week that in an arrangement with Glencore Xstrata, large volumes of unsold metal are being stocked off the market in Estonia and other locations, and are not counted in the worldwide stockpile count of the London Metal Exchange (LME). The reports began here; the impact of last week’s US investigations was reported here.

In trading of Rusal shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange over the month of July, the share price has slipped almost 16%, and is now below HK$2.70 for the first time ever. The company’s market capitalization is now $5.2 billion – that is half the total of the loans and borrowings Rusal reports as owing on March 31.
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RUSSIANS CAN’T TIE THEIR KANGAROO DOWN – VLADIVOSTOK SAUSAGES LOSE THEIR BOUNCE

kangaroo_sausages

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia, the biggest market in the world for exports of Australian kangaroo meat, has thrown the trade into confusion by announcing that authorization for the exporter, Macro Meats of South Australia, has been suspended. According to a July 25 notice from Rosselkhoznadzor (RSN), the government’s veterinary and phytosanitary inspectorate, a container load of kangaroo meat was stopped when inspection found that it originated from a source other than the one licensed for import by RSN. Although RSN isn’t specific, the port is believed to have been Vladivostok, and the seizure about three weeks ago.

Most of the kangaroo meat landing in Russia goes into sausages fabricated and consumed in the Russian fareast. This has been because domestic beef and pork production in the region has been too small to fill the sausage skins, and kangaroo can be landed from Australia more cheaply than imported American, European or Chinese pork. To the south, in China, Australian kangaroo traders claim that choice, higher-cost fillets of the kangaroo are potentially in high demand.
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FIG LEAF OR FIX – US GOVERNMENT AND SENATE INVESTIGATIONS MOVE CLOSER TO RUSAL’S HIDDEN ALUMINIUM

fig_leaf

By John Helmer, Moscow

There are at least five million tonnes of aluminium in storage at the moment hidden from count in order to prevent the price of the metal from collapsing. Much , if not most of that aluminium comes from the Russian aluminium monopoly, United Company Rusal. Investigators for the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in Washington, and members and staff of the Senate Banking Committee, under pressure from constituents who want to lower the aluminium price, are beginning to take an interest in market rigging schemes by Rusal and its principal trader, Glencore Xstrata. First to feel the impact is Rusal’s share price, which slipped this week to HK$2.89, with a market capitalization now of less than $6 billion.

So dependent are Rusal’s revenue and profit lines on keeping its metal out of sight, a recent call by Rusal for greater transparency and accuracy in the disclosure of trader and storage operations was unusual. In remarks to Bloomberg in May, Oleg Mukhamedshin, Rusal’s deputy chief executive, said “the market is not as transparent as it could be. We are asked by our investors what’s going on, and we are just not able to address those questions.” Rusal insiders, who can address those questions with the missing numbers, say they are “terrified” of company sanctions if they do. “Despite the fact that financial investors have such a significant impact on LME prices, we cannot have a proper analysis in terms of open interest and stocks,” Mukhamedshin added in his Bloomberg interview. “The whole world is trying to get more transparent. There are clear benchmarks. Why shouldn’t LME follow best benchmarks?” He was kidding.
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ANDREI MELNICHENKO GOES TO THE PRECIPICE, RISKING EUROCHEM FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA, AND HIMSELF

melnichenko_putin

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s been three years almost to the day since Vladimir Putin (left), then Russian Prime Minister, visited the Gremyachinskoye potash mine in southwestern Volgograd region.

The mine, the newest in construction in Russia, with one of the country’s largest potash reserves, and one of the most costly ever to be built, is owned by Eurochem. This nitrogen, phosphorus and potash fertilizer company is already, the company’s website proclaims, number-1 in Russia, number-3 in Europe, and number-10 in the world. According to its owner, Eurochem aims to be number-5 in the world once Gremyachinskoye starts operating. Eurochem is 92.2% owned by Andrei Melnichenko (right), who is also chairman of the company board. But Melnichenko was nowhere to be seen when Putin visited his property. Instead, Putin was hosted by Eurochem’s chief executive Dmitry Strezhnev. He is Melnichenko’s placeman. Strezhnev owns 7.8% of the Eurochem shares through an offshore equity and trade proceeds scheme which Melnichenko controls in Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands, and Switzerland.
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VLADIMIR PUTIN GIVES FRANCOIS HOLLANDE ANOTHER TWO-EYED POKE

putin_hollande

By John Helmer, Moscow

Moe (Moses Horwitz) of Three Stooges fame stuck his fingers so often in Curly’s (Jerome Horwitz) eyes, it was Curly the audiences loved — until he died of too much drinking and eating. No chance that if Russia’s President Vladimir Putin keeps giving French President Francois Hollande the two-fingered, two-eyed poke, the audiences will fall for the latter, or that Hollande’s fate will be as ignominious as Curly’s. This time the audiences prefer the Moe character. But what exactly has Hollande done, and keeps doing, that he deserves Putin’s eyeball treatment?

The first of Putin’s pokes at Hollande was the award in January of this year of a Russian passport and an apartment on One Democracy Street, Saransk, for Gerard Depardieu. This was followed in February by Hollande’s first visit to Moscow when he and Putin pretended to be businesslike, and Hollande dropped his regime-change talk, at least his earlier support for the overthrow of Putin himself. It’s quite clear that Hollande has struck the Russians as a duplicitous hypocrite. But it’s just as clear that he is so feeble domestically that it’s the French who are giving him the double-eyed poke. His approval rating (Ifop measurement) was 26% in June; last week it was 27%. No French president has proved to be so deeply and widely unpopular so quickly.
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CALLING ALL RUSSIAN ALUMINIUM SPOTTERS

binoc

By John Helmer, Moscow

Following last week’s report on the stockpiling of aluminium belonging to United Company Rusal, a source close to the London Metal Exchange has written to say he recalls a similar scheme for storing Russian aluminium in Estonia a decade ago. He reports that the warehouse used was located in Tallinn and had been known as Albatros Warehousing. By the start of 2000 Albatros Warehousing was in trouble with the LME and in the UK High Court. “During the late 1990s-early 2000, Albatross was a private company in Tallinn. It seems to have disappeared (perhaps acquired) in the early 2000s. They used bright orange in their logo, and it was very recognisable.” By May of 2000, the LME delisted Albatros and ordered its aluminium transferred to other warehouses.

PUT THAT IN YOUR SMOKE AND PIPE IT – VICTOR PINCHUK FACES FRESH DEFAULTS AS RUSSIA IMPOSES IMPORT DUTIES ON INTERPIPE

pipe_it

By John Helmer, Moscow

A decision this week by the Kremlin to raise duties on imported pipes from the Ukraine will hit Interpipe, the heavily indebted pipemaker owned by Victor Pinchuk (left), particularly hard as it faces debt default negotiations with the Ukrainian government, headed by Victor Yanukovich (right), and with a syndicate of European banks. The Fitch ratings agency has warned that if Interpipe’s export revenues fail to meet Pinchuk’s projections as a result of the curtailment of the Russian trade, the company faces a downgrade, and the cost of its debt service will rise sharply.

Following a meeting with Russian steelmakers on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev revealed that as a stimulus measure for local producers of steel strip and pipes, the government has decided to raise import duties and restrict the inflow of imported Ukrainian pipes. “I have decided not to extend the quotas for the supply of Ukrainian pipe products in the last six months”, Medvedev said, endorsing the view of the domestic pipemakers that Ukrainian pipemakers are unfairly undercutting the price of pipes on the Russian market.
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OLEG DERIPASKA’S NEEDLE-IN-A-HAYSTACK TRICK — HOW MUCH UNSOLD ALUMINIUM ARE RUSAL AND GLENCORE HIDING IN ESTONIA?

haystack_deripaska

By John Helmer, Moscow

The share price of United Company Rusal, the Russian state aluminium monopoly, has again dropped below the three-dollar (Hong Kong) level, and is heading towards oblivion – that’s the Citi Bank forecast of HK$1.80. In London and Moscow the market calculation is that, despite the company’s announced cuts to production of aluminium, Rusal’s second-quarter sales, revenues, costs, profit and loss to be released shortly, will reveal a worsening picture.

Just how much worse the share price can get Rusal insiders realize at Moscow headquarters. That’s because they say that a very large volume of metal Rusal has produced, reported as exported and sold, is stocked in a warehouse beside the Baltic Sea. Only this aluminium hasn’t really been sold – it has been hidden by Rusal and its chief trader, Glencore. A company source said the number is so secret that only chief executive Oleg Deripaska (image right), Glencore chief executive and Rusal board member Ivan Glasenberg (left), and a handful of others know it.
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SIBERIAN ANTHRACITE SHARE SALE COLLAPSES – REUTERS EMBARRASSED BY SHARE SALE ADVERTISEMENT

sibanth_collapses

By John Helmer, Moscow

An attempt by Siberian Anthracite, a little known Russian coal producer, to list and sell its shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) collapsed today, just hours after Reuters reported the sale was going ahead. According to the report from the Reuters Moscow Bureau, the initial public offering “has been subscribed by more than 50 percent, two market sources said on Thursday. Sibanthracite set a price range earlier in July of between $7.00 and $9.50 per global depositary receipt (GDR) for the share issue. The order book is expected to be closed later on Thursday, with final pricing announced on Friday.” No reporter byline was published with the despatch.

The Reuters claim intimated that the Russian company would start with a market capitalization on the LSE of about $850 million. Four banks were the promoters — JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Raiffeisen Bank International, and Sberbank.
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EAT YOUR HEART OUT, KIRILL DMITRIEV – QATAR TO ADVISE RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND ON HOW TO SPEND MONEY ON KILLING MACHINES IN SYRIA – MAKE THAT, ROAD-MAKING MACHINES IN RUSSIA

rfpi_qatar

By John Helmer, Moscow

According to the announcement issued yesterday in Moscow, Ahmad Mohamed Al-Sayed (centre), head of the Qatar emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, was appointed by Kirill Dimitriev (bottom right), head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), to join the RDIF international advisory board. An application by Dmitriev for several billion dollars of Qatari money is being discussed with Al-Sayed. The text of the official announcement can be read here.

In his preparation for al-Sayed’s appointment, Dimitriev was asked to clarify what account he took of Qatar’s financing the overthrow of the Syrian Government and the military threats facing Russian ground and naval forces in that country; whether Dmitriev believes Qatar to be at war with Russia in Syria; and what conditions Dmitriev has discussed with the Russian General Staff in order to collect the Qatari money Dmitriev has asked for. Maria Medvedeva, once a CNN television producer and now Dmitirev’s spokesman, replied: “I was slightly surprised by the question, because we are an investment fund and have nothing to do with politics.”

LAGOS JUDGE POSTPONES MYRE SEADIVER CREW TRIAL UNTIL OCTOBER — RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV WEAKENS PIRATE POLICY

lagos_judge

By John Helmer, Moscow

When you are between the hammer of the Nigerian Navy and the anvil of the Nigerian Government, what is a Nigerian judge to do, if not make a very public show of doing nothing?

In a new hearing in a Lagos court yesterday, Nigerian judge James Tsoho (centre) repeated the pattern of his predecessor, Judge Okechukwu Okeke, and again postponed the trial of the crewmen of Russian security tender, Myre Seadiver, this time for another three months. The judge is caught between Nigerian government officials embarrassed but too weak to drop their charges of illegal port entry and arms smuggling, and Nigerian Navy officers strong enough to arrange the arrests of the crewmen and vessel on trumped-up charges, and protective of the Navy’s sideline business of selling vessel security service in Nigerian waters. Pirates in uniform are what this story has been about from the beginning, as one click will illustrate.
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COMING UP FOR AIR — SOVCOMFLOT AIMS AT NEW YORK FLOTATION WITH SERGEI FRANK STILL AT THE HELM

coming_up

By John Helmer, Moscow

Sovcomflot, the state-owned Russian fleet operator, intends to sell a 25% bloc of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), according to a leak to Moscow business newspaper Vedomosti this week. However, the source identified as “close to the board of directors” does not know for how long the intention will be delayed by government ministers and chief arranger, Deutsche Bank.

Former Sovcomflot board chairman and currently First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, announced his backing for the NYSE listing on a visit to the exchange last December. But Kremlin rules require privatization of state-owned shares to be launched also on MICEX, the Moscow stock exchange.
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RUSAL ANNOUNCES LOYALTY PROGRAMME – DERIPASKA TAKES CASH, DONATES RUSAL SHARES TO SUBORDINATES

rusal_bonus

By John Helmer, Moscow

What is a bonus worth if it’s a promissory note for a value that is sinking towards zero in the short term, and cannot be converted to cash or dividends for years? How much loyalty would a zero-value note be expected to attract?

On July 4, Rusal disclosed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it has devised a plan to give shares to company employees for the purpose, the company release claims, “of increasing the employees’ commitment to achievement of the Group’s strategic goals in implementing of the production system.” The plan is for Rusal to buy 0.05% of the 15.2 billion Rusal shares outstanding; that’s 76 million. As Rusal’s share price slips below the HK$3 level, and its market capitalization falls below US$6 billion, it would cost the company US$29 million in cash to fill the employee stock fund to its maximum authorized number. But Rusal says Oleg Deripaska, the chief executive, is going to start the fund off himself at something less than the maximum “The Company currently intends to finance the Plan by applying the internal funding which is available after the CEO voluntarily declined his bonus for the year 2012.” According to Rusal’s financial report for 2012 (page 42), Deripaska’s salary, allowances, benefits in kind, and “discretionary bonuses” came to US$5.536 million. The financial report doesn’t indicate precisely how much of this was in the form of cash, how much in airplane flights to non-business destinations, and how much in bonus cash. The report does claim that Deripaska received 417,266 bonus shares worth at vesting (November 21, 2012) just $274,000.
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GULNARA KARIMOVA’S GAME PLAYS IN FRANCE

karimova_monopoly

By John Helmer, Moscow

Swiss and French financial police have searched offices or homes in France as part of what the spokesman for the Swiss Attorney-General calls “our Uzbek case”. According to Jeannette Balmer, “perquisitions [searches] have been made in France on our request.” She declines to say when the searches were conducted, the addresses of the premises searched, or the names of the Uzbek targets. A report by Ola Westerberg of the Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyra first revealed the French operation on July 2.

According to Westerberg, searches by the Brigade de Recherche et d’Investigation Financière were conducted simultaneously at different French addresses on June 18. The targets, according to Westerberg, were all connected to Takilant, a Gibraltar front company allegedly used to take bribes from TeliaSonera, the Swedish telecommunications group, in return for operating concessions and mobile telephone licences in Uzbekistan. Behind Takilant is alleged to be Gulnara Karimova, the front-running candidate to succeed the current President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, her father. For the runup to the June 18 operation in France, read the archive here.
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EVRAZ DEAL TO SELL HIGHVELD STEEL MISSES DEADLINE, AS SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT BLOWS VTB FINANCING AWAY

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The attempt by the Evraz steel group, owned by Roman Abramovich and others, to sell its South African steelmaking asset, Highveld Steel & Vanadium, for double its market value appears to have failed. The deadline Evraz had earlier announced for closing the deal with a South African front company called Nemascore expired on June 30. On July 2, Tatiana Drachuk, the Evraz spokesman, added: “The market will be informed if any decision is taken.”

In March Evraz said it had accepted an offer of $320 million for its 85.12% stake in Highveld. At the time the market value of this bloc of shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange was the equivalent of $112 million. The offer triggered a sharp rise in Highveld’s share price, but it has since fallen by several degrees. The current market capitalization of the company is $180.3 million; the Evraz stake, $153.4 million.
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LENTA GOES SHOPPING FOR UNSECURED CASH AND UNINFORMED SHARE BUYERS – ANOTHER RUSSIAN IPO WITHOUT DISCLOSURE

lenta

By John Helmer, Moscow

A spate of advertisements for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares, accompanying several rouble bond issues, makes the Lenta hypermarket chain of St. Petersburg appear to be diversifying its investor base with promises of strong growth and a wager on rising Russian consumer spending. In fact, Lenta’s largest shareholder, the US investment fund TPG, is quietly attempting to sell out of the company with the pitch that if a new stakeholder doesn’t hurry with his cash to the negotiating table, the price will be much higher later on.

The ploy, already recognized by investment banking sources in London and Moscow, is a new twist on Russian corporate attempts at placing shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). It has the advantages of concealing the company’s financials before they are expected to worsen; and of avoiding the accountability and governance rules demanded by the UK Listing Authority. There’s one catch, though – Lenta and TPG wouldn’t be playing this game unless they have something to hide, and no genuine buyer for their shares.
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CROOKS MUST CARRY THEIR OWN SACKS – UK COURT OF APPEAL ENDORSES DISHONESTY JUDGEMENTS AGAINST YURY NIKITIN, SERGEI FRANK AND SOVCOMFLOT

crooks

By John Helmer, Moscow

A three-judge panel of the UK Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed a claim by the Sovcomflot subsidiaries, Intrigue Shipping and Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship), for court and legal costs against former fleet charterer Yury Nikitin (second image). Endorsing the earlier judgements of High Court Justice Andrew Smith, the new ruling says the dishonesty of Sovcomflot and its chief executive, Sergei Frank (third image), in making their case against Nikitin balances Nikitin’s dishonesty in conducting his business with the group. For that reason, the Court of Appeal has decided the fair outcome must be that each side should pay its own legal expenses. In addition, for the cost of reaching this conclusion all over again, Nikitin — says his lawyer — has won the appeal court’s order that Sovcomflot should pay his lawyers’ charges.

Sovcomflot has yet to issue an official response to the new judgement, which was decided early in the month and released publicly in London last week. Until now Sovcomflot’s financial reports have been claiming “it is possible that further assets may be recognised in the future in relation to the outcome of the Intrigue [Novoship] costs appeal.”
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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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