US DEMOCRACY PROGRAMME FOLLOWS LENIN — OLIGARCHS TO RULE UKRAINE, RUSSIA TOO, BUT US STEELMILLS AND MINES MAY BE TARGETS

devil_ua

By John Helmer, Moscow

Vladimir Lenin was one day asked about the ethics of a party member who was marrying an heiress. The party wasn’t a “finishing school”, Lenin said, but the money would come in handy, no matter how the lady in question, or her parents, acquired it. “A scoundrel,” Lenin recommended, “may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.”

This wasn’t the same thing as the adaptations attributed later to more than one US President regarding more than one foreign political leader. “He may be a sonofabitch (bastard, crook),” each of the presidents is reported to have said, “but he’s our sonofabitch (ditto).”
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WHO IS EMPLOYING THE DECOY TO BLAST FYODOR ANDREYEV? LEV LEVIEV SAYS IT ISN’T HIM. WHAT DID THE ALROSA CHIEF EXECUTIVE DO TO DESERVE YURY TRUTNEV’S SHOT?

duck_alrosa

By John Helmer, Moscow

Diamonds are a bit like champagne: even in the worst of times, demand can grow among consumers, and for producers, sales revenues and profits too.

Good news isn’t usually the honey which attracts this particular bear; and Alrosa has been producing plenty of it. Released early this month, the company’s financial report for 2013 and operational report for the first quarter of 2014 show that production of rough stones is up, with higher grades for each tonne of ore and higher volumes of ore out of the company’s newest mines. Rough diamond prices are rising, so sales revenues grew at 11% last year, and are forecast to accelerate to 16% this year. Compared to its major global rivals, Alrosa has been able to maintain its output at the minehead, while the others – De Beers, Rio Tinto — have retreated, and BHP Billiton has left the business altogether.
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THE MAJORITY OF EASTERN UKRAINIANS WANTS THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, RUSSIAN MONEY, OPEN BORDERS — BUT NO RUSSIAN MILITARY INTERVENTION, NO NATO INTERVENTION, AND NO MORE UKRAINIAN OLIGARCHS

ua_cat

By John Helmer, Moscow

Eastern Ukrainians are convinced that the Kremlin will serve their interests best in the current tussle over constitutional rights, law and order, if President Vladimir Putin keeps Russian forces on the Russian side of the frontier. This view isn’t changing as partition of the country hardens, and violence in the east and south becomes worse.

The interpretation a US Government-funded polling operation draws from this is quite different from the conclusions the Ukrainians themselves are drawing. That’s because there are questions the US poll didn’t ask, and Ukrainian pollsters did. Publication of the US Government polling also reveals there were Ukrainian answers in March which Washington has omitted to report in April.
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OLEG DERIPASKA’S FUTURE AS PEKING DUCK

deripaska_duck

By John Helmer, Moscow

Multibillion dollar contracts between GlencoreXstrata and United Company Rusal, signed for trading of aluminium and alumina late in 2011, appear to have unravelled in a London arbitration court. However, because the arbitration has been conducted behind closed doors, Glencore is refusing to confirm or deny that the company is facing liability for a retrospective veto of their six-year $47 billion undertaking.

Glencore’s spokesman, Charles Watenphul for media and Paul Smith for investor relations, will not acknowledge that a ruling by the London Court of International Arbitration [LCIA] has upheld a veto of its Rusal contracts by Victor Vekselberg, the former chairman of the Rusal board and by SUAL Partners, a combination of Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik which holds an 8.75% shareholding in Rusal. The two Glencore spokesmen are also refusing to confirm or deny fresh evidence that Glencore has already paid SUAL Partners $80 million as their share of claims before the LCIA partially settled in January.
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US SENDS USS TAYLOR ON REASSURANCE CRUISE AGAINST RUSSIA — DOWN-GUNNED, NEW PROPELLER, INTERIM CAPTAIN

50

By John Helmer, Moscow

The US Navy has announced that it has called back its frigate, USS Taylor, from the Souda Bay repair dock in Crete, and ordered her into the Black Sea from April 22. The Navy announcement says the mission is a routine one “consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law. Taylor’s mission is to reassure NATO allies of the U.S. Navy’s commitment to strengthen and improve interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region.”
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THE SPELL OF THE EAST UKRAINIAN OLIGARCHS — THEY MESMERIZE THE WESTERN PRESS, THEN THEY DEMATERIALIZE

magic_pinchuk

By John Helmer, Moscow

Victor Pinchuk is either the greatest of patriots among the oligarchs of eastern Ukraine for having promoted an alliance with the European Union and the US presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Or else he’s made a colossal miscalculation, sacrificing his Interpipe steel combine for no market benefit, not even relief for debts of more than $1.3 billion.

He’s not the only eastern Ukrainian oligarch to suffer from the transition government’s agreements with Brussels and Washington last month. The European Union’s Ukrainian trade assistance programme, released on March 11, refused to extend benefits to the major mining and metals businesses to the east of Kiev; for the details, click here. Likewise, the programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which followed on March 27, has introduced devaluation of the hryvnia, gas and electricity price increases to “full cost recovery”, a hike in state rail tariffs, and a stop to rigged state procurement for steel products: these measures all inflate the cost line of the oligarch balance-sheets at the same time as closure of the Russian market and lack of alternative markets have already depressed their revenue line.
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GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY, ROUND-2 — USS DONALD COOK GIVES ODESSA A MISS, SAILS SOUTHEAST

gunboat_duck

By John Helmer, Moscow

On Thursday President Vladimir Putin described NATO missile batteries aimed at Russia’s Black Sea coastline as threatening the nuclear defences of southwestern Russia. It was the first time the president or Russian defence officials have put Crimea into Russian strategic survival doctrine. US Navy deployment in the Black Sea of ships armed with Aegis missiles is one of the concrete threats Putin was referring to. This has made the current Black Sea cruise of the USS Donald Cook, an Aegis-armed destroyer, of special importance. It is the reason a Russian military aircraft buzzed the Cook as it steamed towards Constanta port, in Romania.

It is also the reason why, as Putin was speaking in Moscow, the Cook pulled away from the Constanta dock, setting a course to the southeast from Constanta towards Georgia and Turkey, and not a northward course towards Odessa. In that Ukrainian port, public demonstrations against a port call by the Cook have been under way for several days.
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EVRAZ PLAYS THE HIDDEN HAND — VITKOVICE STEEL SALE IS A RELATED-PARTY TRANSACTION (IN WHICH SERGEI TARUTA, ACTING DONETSK GOVERNOR, GETS A REWARD HE CAN’T AFFORD)

evraz_transparency

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Evraz group, controlled by Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, is listed on the main board of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). It is also the second most indebted steelmaker in Russia, with a current debt of about $6.5 billion, and a loss on its 2013 balance-sheet of $572 million.

This parlous condition is obliging Abramovich and Abramov to get rid of as many of their lossmaking steelmills as they can, and avoid defaulting on their bank loan covenants. Because the duo miscalculated when they paid premium prices for their foreign assets, the writedowns to the current value of their purchases are inflicting big numbers on the loss line of the Evraz financial reports, eliminating shareholder dividends, and cutting market capitalization. At the moment, the market values Evraz at £1.3 billion ($2.2 billion) – that’s to say, one-third of what Evraz owes its banks. The market capitalization has been dwindling steadily since February 2012 when it was £6.9 billion. Among Russian steelmakers only Igor Zyuzin, owner of the Mechel group, has generated more debt, and destroyed more asset value.
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UKRUSSY RIOT — BBC FABRICATES “A VERY, VERY SIGNIFICANT SHOW OF FORCE TODAY BY FORCES LOYAL TO KIEV”

ukrussy_riot

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Easter holidays have come early for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) User-Generated Content Hub (UGC) in London. That’s the BBC’s centre for expertise whose purpose is to make sure that published images, still and moving, soundtracks, and other documentary film material, are authentic, and mean what the Corporation says they mean in its broadcasts. The UGC was also off work a little more than a year ago, when in a series of broadcasts by Moscow correspondent Steven Rosenberg (lower left), the BBC produced false text, fabricated images, and invented, mashup soundtrack of the Pussy Riot group.

On that occasion – actually, seven months later, after this report exposed what had happened – the BBC opened an investigation, concluding that text had been “incorrect”; “misleading impression” had occurred; “errors” were made. “Any suggestion that the BBC fabricated or staged any footage is absolutely untrue,” the BBC correction declared. “We are taking steps to ensure the errors are not repeated.” Except during school midterms and on religious holidays.
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OLEG DERIPASKA DOES THE HORA — THE ROMANIAN ADVENTURE THAT RAN CIRCLES AROUND RUSAL

romania_deripaska

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Oradea alumina refinery is a property of Oleg Deripaska’s in Romania. Deripaska (centre image) is the chief executive and controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly. Deripaska bought Oradea in 2000 over the unanimous objections of the senior management of Rusal in Moscow at the time. The company’s experts warned that Oradea would be too costly to operate, and of insufficient benefit to Rusal for its alumina needs to warrant the expense.

Since then the asset has all but disappeared from the balance-sheets of Deripaska’s holdings. His ownership of the plant is almost invisible in Romania itself. But the refinery is still there, shuttered and unsellable.
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POPEYE PULLS PUTIN PUNCH — TOO LATE TO PREVENT KNOCK-OUT FOR AUSTRALIAN MEAT EXPORTS TO RUSSIA

punch

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian Government has decided not to exclude President Vladimir Putin from the summit meeting of the G-20 heads of government scheduled for Brisbane in November. The move to withdraw the entry ban, first declared on March 19, is too late to prevent the restoration of Australia’s $200 million beef export trade to Russia. According to importers in Moscow, the orders for that meat are now going to several South American countries. Imports of pork, veal and turkey from the US, banned by Russia for more than a year, have been revived.
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MAGIC TRICKS TO CUT RUSAL DEBT — OLEG DERIPASKA ASKS MIKHAIL PROKHOROV TO SELL NIGERIAN SMELTER AWARDED BY THE COURTS TO SOMEONE ELSE

magic_alscon

By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal, the state aluminium monopoly run by Oleg Deripaska, is selling the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon). Only the Rusal announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx) doesn’t put a name to the asset. Rusal is also not accepting that the Nigerian courts have already decided the Alscon asset isn’t Rusal’s property to dispose of.

The decision to sell Alscon was reported to the exchange on April 8. The notice explains that the Jersey subsidiary of Rusal, RTI Limited, has hired Renaissance Securities to provide “financial advisory services in respect of a potential sale of shares of a subsidiary(ies) of the Company.” The services are to cost “up to USD10 million (including a fixed success fee of USD3 million and an incentive fee of up to USD7 million) for the entire term of the Mandate Letter, including any extended period of the term.”
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FIVE STEPS TO UNCOVER CORRUPTION AT UNITED SHIPBUILDING WHEN ROMAN TROTSENKO WAS IN CHARGE

usc_trotsenko

By John Helmer, Moscow

From the affairs of the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), once chaired by Igor Sechin and run by his protégé Roman Trotsenko, much of significance flows, if not a great many new ships. And if it weren’t for the significance of those two names, not much would follow from the case of Ilya Novoselsky, until recently chief lawyer for USC, and now under arrest in St. Petersburg on charges of abuse of authority and fraud.

For the time being and for that reason, he is incommunicado. So too is Trotsenko (image below). Rosneft, which Sechin has headed since 2011, confirms that “at the moment Trotsenko leads Rosneft Overseas SA.” This entity is registered in Switzerland and maintains an office in Geneva. Trotsenko and a Swiss lawyer named Daniel Richard are the signatories; Richard’s daytime job is at the Geneva law firm of Python & Peter.
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THE SINKING FEELING — ANNE APPLEBAUM ABANDONS POLAND, RADEK SIKORSKI FOR NEW EU FOREIGN MINISTER

sinking_feeling

By John Helmer, Moscow

Anne Applebaum is one of the advocates of war against Russia to the last Ukrainian – and to the last Pole, too.

Until very recently, she proposed reinforcing Poland’s borders with fresh North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces. On March 20, the Washington Post gave her a platform to declare: “we need to re-imagine NATO, to move its forces from Germany to the alliance’s eastern borders.” There are currently about 40,000 US forces in Germany, 21,500 UK troops, and 160,000 in the German Army. Assuming Applebaum means to leave the Bundeswehr to stay put and not repeat a former mistake, altogether, Applebaum proposes to redeploy to the NATO side of Russia’s frontier, 61,500 men.
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THE OPERATIONAL CODE OF THE AMERICAN POLITBURO — TOWARDS RUSSIA

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Rarely is it possible to find a history professor’s work on Russia to be self-evidently what it isn’t – and yet to find its premise locked by high-ranking US Government officials into a state policy of Kremlin attack and Russian regime change.

J. Arch Getty III is a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. His new book, published by Yale University Press, is called Practicing Stalinism, Bolsheviks, Boyars and the Persistence of Tradition. This is a misnomer because most of the book is taken up with attempts to demonstrate that Russian political culture predates Stalin and the Bolsheviks by a thousand years, and postdates Stalin by another fifty. Getty skips Boris Yeltsin in order to concentrate on Vladimir Putin and make him appear to be “practicing Stalinism” – what Getty really means is something that isn’t Stalinism at all. His word for it is clientelism; cronyism is another.
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AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER EATS HORMONES, LOSES $200 MILLION AS MEAT EXPORTS TO RUSSIA BANNED

au_ban

By John Helmer, Moscow

Australian meat imports to Russia have been banned by an order of the Russian veterinary and phyto-sanitary service, Rosselkhoznadzaor (RSN). The order was issued on March 31, and halts a trade which earned Australian meat exporters almost $200 million last year. The Russian action came twelve days after the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced that President Vladimir Putin may be banned from entering Australia to attend the G20 summit meeting, scheduled in Brisbane in November.

The RSN announced that it has found traces of a growth hormone or steroid called Trenbolone, first in chilled Australian beef, then in beef offal, and now in frozen beef. RSN official Alexei Alexeyenko said the comprehensive ban was imposed after RSN judged that certifications from the Australian government’s veterinary authorities could not be trusted. This followed negotiations between RSN and their Australian counterparts between December and February, and after the Australians had given fresh undertakings. According to Sergei Dankvert, the head of RSN, the Australians had promised to exclude from their exports to Russia meat with trenbolone traces, but this hasn’t happened.
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UKRAINE SIGNS EXPORT BREAKTHROUGH WITH EUROPEAN UNION — DUTY-FREE TREATMENT FOR ASSES

eu_donkey

By John Helmer, Moscow

The European Union’s emergency trade assistance package for Ukraine provides duty-free entry into the European market if you are a Ukrainian exporter of asses, mules, and hinnies. If the regions of the Ukraine are to have a say in the trade terms, the enterprises of the southern and eastern regions aren’t likely to approve, because most of the new trade advantages have been granted by Brussels to farmers and foodstuff enterprises in the west.

One of the largest single beneficiaries, according to the European Trade Commissioner’s office, is the Roshen confectionery group owned by Petro Poroshenko (image, right). He is also the front-running candidate in the Ukrainian presidential election due on May 25. “Chocolate and cocoa products will benefit from a substantial preferential treatment,” says John Clancy, spokesman for Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, “as the large majority of them falls under the category that will be immediately liberalised (zero duty). For a few specific products, and for some confectionery, the liberalisation will apply within the quantitative limits established by the tariff quotas, as indicated in the annex to the schedule.”
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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.  

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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.  

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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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
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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.

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