EVRAZ IPO — ROMAN ABRAMOVICH INVITES US STOCK BUYERS TO OVERLOOK WHO HE IS, AND WHERE HE COMES FROM

evraz_ipo

By John Helmer, Moscow

During his lengthy testimony and cross-examination in the UK High Court, Roman Abramovich (below, left) claimed he couldn’t remember much about what taxes he paid. The judge believed him. That remarkable episode in the history of Russian taxation took place on November 5, 2011, at 3 in the afternoon.

Now Abramovich has presented the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with a prospectus for selling shares of the North American division of his steel company, Evraz. The document runs to 218 pages, and except for the minuscule print on one, Abramovich omits to say who he is, and how he controls Evraz. He glosses over one key word from his description of Evraz, and the big risk for shareholders in North America: that word is “Russia”.
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FLYBOY AND THE WAR ECONOMY — AFTER THE KUBAN AIRLINES AND SOCHI AIRPORT CRASHES, OLEG DERIPASKA ASKS FOR $450 MILLION IN FRESH STATE CASH TO LIFT THE RUSSIAN ARMY

flyboy_deripaska

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska is flying to the rescue of the Fatherland, again.

Russia is now a war economy, even if not all the Kremlin officials in charge will admit it publicly, as they squabble privately over what to do, and who will gain. “A new industrialization for the country”, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the military-industrial complex, Dmitry Rogozin, announced on Sunday night television – without saying what place the old, unsanctioned oligarchs may have to play, or the new oligarchs on the American proscription list.
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VICTOR PINCHUK’S $200 MILLION CASHFLOW, BEFORE AND AFTER

pinchuk_cow

By John Helmer, Moscow

What do Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Anders Aslund, Steven Pifer, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and the Brookings Institution have in common? Answer: they drink unpasteurised milk from the Ukraine. Lots of it.

How damaging this may be for the health depends on how Victor Pinchuk (image left, right), the Ukrainian pipemaker, responds to filings in the Moscow Arbitrazh Court. Reported publicly this week, the court papers suggest that through companies registered in Cyprus, Pinchuk milked about $200 million from the Rossiya Insurance Company in Moscow. For the time being, the Russian court action is a civil one, and seeks repayment by Pinchuk’s East One holding and related companies. If Pinchuk doesn’t repay, Cyprus, European Union, and US court action, alleging conspiracy to defraud, is likely to follow. Pinchuk’s innocence should be assumed in the meantime. Drinking raw milk, however, carries a contamination risk.
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RUSSIA SANCTIONS, US GOVERNMENT LIES — CANADA OPENS LEGAL CHALLENGE

canada_challenge

By John Helmer, Moscow

A legal challenge by Canadians against government evidence for sanctions against Russia has won a reversal by the Canadian Foreign Ministry. The victory conceded by the ministry in Ottawa last week opens the door to legal challenges to the US Government’s campaign to topple President Vladimir Putin and force regime change in Moscow.

The Canadian Foreign Minister, John Baird, admitted in parliament on September 18 that the government had removed two Russian banks, RosEnergoBank and Expobank, from its sanctions list. “Following receipt of new information and further investigation and analysis, these entities are being removed from the list,” Baird said in reply to a question in the House of Commons from opposition member, Paul Dewar. According to Baird, the banks were “sufficiently divorced” from events in Ukraine to warrant sanctions.
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WHO IS PULLING THE STRINGS AT ALROSA?

alrosa_strings

By John Helmer, Moscow

When a man falls on his sword, his demise isn’t usually blamed on medical reasons.

A statement from the state diamond miner Alrosa on Monday reported that chief executive Fyodor Andreyev (image, lower right) “decided to resign from the post of ALROSA president for medical reasons. He announced about this decision at the weekly management meeting held on 22 September. Stepping down from the operative management of the company, Fyodor Andreyev will continue to take part in ALROSA governance as a member of the Supervisory Board.” Now the smallest child in Russia knows that to absent himself from school, he must deliver a signed medical certificate. For a publicly listed shareholding company, as Alrosa has been since October 2013, to omit such a detail, and for Andreyev to judge it unnecessary, signals how little has changed in the governance of the company, and how unaccountable and non-transparent Andreyev was both in his coming to Alrosa, and in his going from it.
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US DECLARES WAR ON RUSSIA — AUSTRALIA THREATENS PRESIDENT PUTIN’S SECURITY AT G-20 SUMMIT

g20_war

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian Government is threatening the personal security of President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit, to be held in November. The state government of Queensland, where the summit meetings will be located, is threatening to attack Putin with public displays of homosexual symbols, including pink sequins.

The calculation is that Russia’s international isolation should be intensified, Putin evicted from the G-20, as he was in March from the G-8; reviled in his absence as justification for violent schemes to overthrow him. If Putin attends the Queensland meeting, the risk of the latter will be high. Fear for himself is what the Australians intend him to have.
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EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE INTRODUCES THE ANTI-RASMUSSEN RULE — SANCTIONS CANNOT BE IMPOSED BY REASON OF FABRICATION, LIES, DISINFORMATION

eu_justice

By John Helmer, Moscow

Anders Fogh Rasmussen departs in two weeks from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), where he has been secretary-general since 2009, with a present from the General Court of the European Union Court of Justice. It’s a golden tongue depressor.

In a judgement issued in Luxembourg on Thursday, September 18, the court ruled that the European Union(EU) cannot lawfully introduce sanctions against states, corporations, state organizations, or individuals without stating reasons which can be substantiated in evidence to a standard of proof tested in court.
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UKRAINE POLL RESULT – POROSHENKO GAINS IN DONBASS ON SUPPORT FOR PEACE, WAR PARTY LOSES ALL-UKRAINE VOTE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Polling of Ukrainian voters since the ceasefire in the civil war was negotiated on September 5 reveals that large, growing majorities of Ukrainians throughout the country are in favour of keeping to the ceasefire terms and stopping hostilities. The only political party Ukrainian voters say they support to do this is President Petro Poroshenko’s Solidarity bloc, an alliance with Vitaily Klitschko, Yury Lutsenko and Olga Bogomolets.

Ukrainian politicians, including the current Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk and former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, are losing support, the voters say, because they favour war in the Donbass, sanctions against Russia, and military intervention of NATO on Ukrainian territory. Yatseniuk and Timoshenko are leading blocs they are calling Patriots of Ukraine and Fatherland in the campaign for parliamentary seats to be decided on October 26. On current polling trends, their voters across the country will number less than 5%, the threshold for winning party seats in the new Verkhovna Rada.
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US DECLARES WAR ON RUSSIA — TITANIUM

titanium_wars

By John Helmer, Moscow

Ukrainian government and commercial interests are lobbying the US Government to support a stealth sanction against VSMPO-AVISMA, the Russian supplier of titanium to Boeing and other US aerospace companies. Instead of VSMPO, the Ukrainians are seeking US government financing for the establishment of new high-grade titanium production lines at Zaporizhye Titanium and Magnesium Combine (ZTMC), and expansion of Ukrainian titanium exports to the US.

This week, a confidential message from the US Department of Commerce revealed that, “in recent meetings with U.S. Department of Commerce officials, the GOU [Government of Ukraine] expressed that it would like to have U.S. companies involved in the development of the titanium resources in Ukraine. The Commerce Department is, of course, very interested in encouraging the involvement of all U.S. companies in all relevant sectors given such an opportunity, and we are inviting input from industry regarding this topic.”
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POSTCARD FROM GENEVA — VICTOR PINCHUK IS FIRST UKRAINE OLIGARCH TO WAVE THE WHITE, BLUE AND RED; SERGEI TARUTA IS THE SECOND

pinchuk_geneva

By John Helmer, Moscow

On Sunday, September 14, Victor Pinchuk signed a declaration with a group of leading Russian and German businessmen, calling for decentralization of regional power in eastern Ukraine; self-determination and constitutional guarantees of minority rights; military non-alignment and neutrality barring Ukrainian membership of NATO or foreign military deployments, bases, advisors on Ukrainian territory, east or west; an end to sanctions; resumption of business as usual with Russia; modification of the European Union’s association agreement with Kiev by trade terms acceptable to Moscow; and Russian participation in multilateral financing for economic recovery and reconstruction of the war-damaged Donbass.
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VICTOR PINCHUK THROWS A WAR PARTY IN KIEV — GEORGE SOROS AND MIKHAIL FRIDMAN PAY FOR COCKTAILS, DMITRY MEDVEDEV SENDS SINGERS TO JOIN PRAVY SEKTOR, DNIEPR BATTALION IN CHORUS

war_party

By John Helmer, Moscow

Petro Poroshenko disappointed most of the audience at Victor Pinchuk’s Kiev party on Friday and Saturday by suggesting that he is ready to trim the terms of Ukraine’s partnership agreement with the European Union in order to meet President Vladimir Putin’s demands. But that’s exactly what Pinchuk (front row, 6th left) needs if Interpipe, his steel and pipemaking group in Dniepropetrovsk region, is to trade its way out of bank default and insolvency.

According to Poroshenko, “We have to be the most flexible concerning the [EU] Agreement on association and do everything possible to keep those opportunities which we will have within association, and at the same time to make it comfortable for Russia. I will personally use my best efforts for this purpose.”
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WORLD BANK PAYS $500 MILLION TO THE NATIONAL BANK OF UKRAINE DESPITE WARNINGS FROM WORLD BANK BOARD AND IMF STAFF

gontareva_beating_dead_horse

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the picture, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, an American, is applauding as the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), Valeriya Gontareva, beats a dead horse. For the metaphorically minded, the dead horse is the Ukrainian banking system. For the literally minded, Gontareva claims the horse is alive and running healthily. Kim, Gontareva, and the horse appear to have their eyes wide open on the scene. Either that — or at least one of them is blinking at the truth.

On August 8, the World Bank paid $500 million to NBU. The term is for 16 years, with the first seven a grace period, and a variable interest rate once repayments start.
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THE MINISTER OF OPEN GOVERNMENT KEEPS A SECRET, IN CALIFORNIA — MIKHAIL ABYZOV IS THE FOX WHO GUARDS THE HENHOUSE

abyzov_fox

By John Helmer, Moscow

Mikhail Abyzov (centre) is the man in charge of keeping the Russian government transparent, accountable and so far as the name of his ministerial commission can be stretched through 235 government press releases since his appointment in May 2012, open. But the Minister for Open Government has a secret he keeps closed.

Abyzov is now fighting for political survival, as President Vladimir Putin is being urged by his advisors to replace the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, and purge Medvedev’s allies, especially those with substantial or hidden links to the United States. Abyzov is a target, the sources claim, because he is alleged to be one of the fund-raisers for Medvedev’s political campaigning; and because he keeps a large part of his wealth in the US. For Putin partisans, Abyzov’s personal ties to the US make his Russian loyalties vulnerable.
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BACCHUS RETURNS TO CRIMEA — BORIS TITOV TO REPORT $100 MILLION WINEMAKING PLAN THIS MONTH

bacchus_titov

By John Helmer, Moscow

Boris Titov (centre) has proposed the revival of Crimean winemaking with at least $20 million in state budget funds each year for the next five. If everything goes according to his plan, the outcome by the end of 2019 will be a state winemaking corporation, ripe for privatization, with 140,000 hectares of vines producing a bumper harvest not seen since the Soviet Union. Even that is less than half the area of vineyards required to support the growing Russian consumption of wine, particularly of the champagne type.

Titov, whose official post in the Russian government is Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights, is the owner of Abrau-Durso through Abrau Durso Group Limited of Cyprus, and Solvalub Trading Ltd., a company registered on the Channel Island of Jersey. Abrau-Durso is one of Russia’s leading winemakers, producing premium-priced sparkling and still white wines and reds. For the archive on Abrau-Durso, read this.
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NOT SO EASY RIDER — NEW UKRAINE POLL REVEALS COLLAPSE OF WAR PARTY, VOTERS DROP PRO-NATO CANDIDATES OLEG LYASHKO, ARSENY YATSENIUK, YULIA TIMOSHENKO, AND OLEG TYAGNIBOK

ua_rider

By John Helmer, Moscow

After the steady rise of enthusiasm for war in Ukraine voter polls through the summer, Ukrainian politicians in favour of the military campaign against Donetsk, Lugansk, and Russia, have suffered a dramatic loss of support across the country.

This was reported in Kiev on September 3. In the first countrywide poll taken since the Ukrainian Army took heavy casualties and retreated from the Donbass at the end of August, voters who had supported the pro-war Radical Party, led by Oleg Lyashko (image-2), have dropped from 22.2% to 13.1%. Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s (3) bloc, Patriots of Ukraine, which includes the police and national guard minister, Arsen Avakov (4), has collapsed from more than 9% to 3.7%. Yulia Timoshenko’s (6) Fatherland party has fallen below her former proteges to 3.5%. The Svoboda (“Freedom”) party of Oleg Tyagnibok (1), the candidate of the US Embassy in Kiev and the State Department, and Pravy Sektor (“Right Sector”), the party behind the national guard formations fighting in the east, have lost virtually all their support outside the far western regions of the country; across the Ukraine they are now polling just 2.5% and 1%.
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UKRAINE TAKES ANOTHER $1.39 BILLION FROM INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND — $3 BILLION IN IMF CASH ALREADY SENT OFFSHORE — INSIDERS SUSPECTED IN HEIST, GETAWAY DRIVERS CLAIM ALIBI

imf_ua

By John Helmer, Moscow

Bank robbers of the manual, stick-up type have a reputation for a sense of a humour. That may be a comfort to them, because they usually get caught. Bank robbers of the International Monetary Fund type lack even a sense of irony, because they expect not to be caught, and never are. In the bank- robbing profession also, the driver of the get-away car is usually the least talented, the witless one who doesn’t see the gag, especially not when he or she is the butt of jokes from the rest of the gang.

This week, when Alexander Shlapak, the Ukrainian Minister of Finance, helped himself to $1.39 billion, the second tranche of the IMF’s Ukraine Stand-By Agreement of $17.1 billion, he illustrated the ministry’s Facebook announcement in Kiev with a picture showing an anonymous figure carrying a cheap briefcase away from the IMF headquarters as the Fund’s front-door sign is partially covered up by the Ukrainian flag. Counting the first tranche of $3.1 billion Shlapak took away on May 5, the cover-up is currently blowing at $4.5 billion. Another $1.39 billion had been scheduled for the taking in October. But that has been delayed and doubled to $2.8 billion for payout by December 15.
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WHAT IMPACT RUSSIA’S COUNTER-SANCTIONS? — POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER SIKORSKI FEEDS APPLES TO CAMERAS

sikorski_apples

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Russian government commenced its counter-sanctions programme a month ago, on August 7. This extended what had been a quarter-billion dollar loss for Australian meat exporters, beginning on March 31, to more than $7 billion in losses for the European Union plus Canada and Norway. In a briefing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev implied that the sanctions were a sorry tit-for-tat for the sanctions already imposed on Russia. “This retaliation wasn’t easy for us. We were forced into it, but even under these conditions, we’re sure we’ll be able to turn things to our benefit.”

That explains why Poland is at the top, along with Australia, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, even Denmark, home of the noisiest anti-Russian outside Ukraine, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, ex-prime minister of Denmark and outgoing secretary-general of NATO. The story of what the Australians did to deserve the counterpunch can be read here. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image) and his wife, Anne Applebaum, have been echoing Rasmussen’s claims from NATO headquarters, hoping to land themselves in his job, and or the European Union’s foreign ministry. The story of how they failed, leaving Poland’s apple-growers and other exporters with the bill, can be read here.
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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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