STORMS & DRANGS & ALEXANDER BEDRITSKY, RUSSIA’S WEATHERMAN — HOW MUCH MORE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ARE GOOD FOR RUSSIA?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

When the Russian delegation arrives in Peru next week for a fresh session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it is proposing several initiatives for debate and vote. None of them proposes to cut greenhouse gas emissions below the target set a year ago by President Vladimir Putin. But according to a report issued this week in Moscow, that target has already been achieved. For further cuts there is next to no enthusiasm from state or business officials.
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FIRST OLIGARCH TO GET A RED CARD – INTERPOL ISSUES ARREST NOTICE FOR SERGEI PUGACHEV

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Interpol has issued a Wanted Notice for Sergei Pugachev, making him the first Russian oligarch to have Russian charges of fraud endorsed by the international police organization – and to make a money-launderer of the Financial Times. If Pugachev crosses the border between his homes in England and France, the policemen on either side will see his name flashing on their computer screens, and they will be under standing orders to arrest him.
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THE RUSSIA WAR PARTY CAN’T SPEAK GERMAN, TRAMPLES CHANCELLOR MERKEL’S MEANING

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By John Helmer, Moscow

When an elephant means to put his foot down on something with the objective of crushing it, a German speaker uses the same word as in English – trample (trampeln). When the intention and the outcome are emphatic, an English-speaker can say trample underfoot.

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel (lead image) expressed the idea in a speech on November 17 that she objects to the legality of Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine, she used a different expression — mit Füßen getreten wird. Literally, that means “with feet is kicked”. To the customary German ear, it means “kicked aside”, “ignored”.

To the New York Times and The Economist, the expression was a signal from Merkel of an angry change in German strategy. But comparing the English interpretation with the German original, this was incompetent translating and unprofessional reporting.
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CIRCLE THE RUSSIAN WAGONS – BELIEF IN PATRIOTISM, SACRIFICE, AND PUTIN RISES IN REACTION TO US, EU SANCTIONS, MEDIA WAR

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The war against Russia outside Russia is being lost inside Russia. If the Allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany’s cities failed seventy years ago, and since then every US attempt to topple Middle Eastern and South American regimes, what reason or reward do the bow-and-arrow brigade have for thinking otherwise?

The latest Russian opinion polls reveal that President Vladimir Putin enjoys a greater reserve of domestic political support than his western attackers, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, anticipated for Putin — or enjoy for themselves. In the war of attrition Russians believe to have been imposed on them, Putin has more time to spare than Obama or Cameron – and not less than Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN OLIGARCH AND A CRONY – WASHINGTON BELIEVES IN KONSTANTIN MALOFEEV

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By John Helmer, Moscow

When Alfred Sloan ran General Motors in Detroit, he supplied Nazi Germany with engine technology, assembly lines, and working capital for Messerschmidt and Junker warplanes, Panzer tanks, troop and gun transports, along with land mines and torpedo detonators. The Germans said they couldn’t have invaded Poland, Belgium, Holland, Norway, France, or Russia without him. Sloan was breaking US law at the time, so he destroyed the company records of his collaboration with Berlin. He also supplied the US war effort with comparable military technology, if a bit slower in the air.

World War II was a good business for Sloan. “The business of business is business” is a motto attributed to Sloan. He may not have said it. There’s no doubt he thought it.

Since March of this year the US Treasury has declared war on Russia, and through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) it has ordered US businesses and banks not to collaborate. The European Union (EU) and other US allies, like Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Canada, and Australia, have been asked by Washington to implement the same measures. But the country sanctions lists aren’t quite the same. In the gaps and differences, a model of Russian business is emerging into plain light. A theory of the political succession in Russia, too.
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WHERE TO GO WHEN PETER HAMBRO AND PAVEL MASLOVSKY RUN OUT OF CASH? PETROPAVLOVSK BEGS FOR RUSSIAN STATE BANK BAILOUT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Petropavlovsk Plc has almost run out of tricks.

Advertisements placed at the start of this month in the London papers that the goldminer may be on the receiving end of a Russian-funded bailout lifted the London Stock Exchange share price for less than 24 hours. The market capitalization has since continued on its trajectory towards worthlessness. Kirill Androsov of Altera Capital, the door-opener for a fresh Sberbank financing, is refusing to say which way the door is swinging. According to a leading London mine financier, “Petropavlovsk’s assets just don’t have any value. Low grade and tough metallurgy. Gentle euthanasia is the best option.”
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THE MAGIC OF ALUMINIUM — RUSAL RECOVERY DEPENDENT ON RISING WAREHOUSE PREMIUM, AND CHINA

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By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal, the state aluminium monopoly run by Oleg Deripaska (lead image), has announced a third-quarter profit of $25 million, its first bottom-line in the black for three years. The company’s report explains the result by pointing to production cuts, the decline in costs of production, and a rise in the market price of aluminium.

In theory, the reason for the profit is that demand for Rusal metal is growing, and supply falling. “Healthy consumption growth,” Deripaska said on the company website last week, “coupled with production curtailments, have led to a deficit in the global market, ex-China, of 0.9 million tonnes of aluminium in the first nine months of the year. This, together with falling LME inventories, which have dropped below 4.5 million tonnes, means the deficit is continuing to widen. These positive market developments and our continued focus on cost controls and increasing margins through value added production have enabled UC RUSAL to report significantly improved third quarter results.”

In fact, Zug, London, and New York traders report, demand for physical metal is uncertain, especially inside China, while supply outside China is being restricted in warehouse by producers like Rusal, and traders allied with them. It remains more profitable to finance aluminium in storage than to sell to metal users and consumers. This is market manipulation, the traders say, pointing to Glencore, a minority shareholder in Rusal and Rusal’s principal trader. The fix isn’t stable and the revenue benefit for Rusal is neither certain nor predictable, the traders warn.
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POLYUS GOLD AND THE DUMB MONEY EFFECT – HOW SULEIMAN KERIMOV PROVES HE’S DUMBER THAN MIKHAIL PROKHOROV

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It can be no surprise, not even to Russian dunces, that Suleiman Kerimov, the only Russian oligarch and senator of the Russian parliament who has never answered a question in public, has been trying to cash out of Polyus Gold, and can find no takers. Especially not at the current price of gold.

Why then would Polyus Gold report this week that it has discovered that Natalka, in Magadan, the largest new goldmining project in Russia, has vastly less gold in reserve and resource than it has revealed to shareholders before? Why reveal that the loss of future gold sale revenues just announced would be worth $52 billion at the current gold price?

Answer: having no alternative to recover his capital from Polyus Gold by selling out, Kerimov is sacrificing market capitalization of his company stake, and by halting the expenditure of cash on the Natalka mine, Kerimov has decided to put the money into his own pocket as dividends.
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NAVAL TIT-FOR-TAT – WHO REALLY WANTS WAR WITH RUSSIA?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

There is no word in the language of Australian soldiers or sailors for tit-for-tat.

American military strategists, the uniform and the armchair types, are much better acquainted. The latter understand exactly why a squadron of the Russian Pacific Fleet has sailed to a position within helicopter (and nuclear-armed missile) range of Brisbane, ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the G20 state summit over the weekend.
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SERGEI FRANK DISMISSED BY THE HIGHEST UK COURT – ANOTHER $4 MILLION LOST ON VENGEANCE LITIGATION

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in the UK, issued a rejection notice on November 10, denying the Sovcomflot subsidiary, Novoship, an appeal against its defeat in the Court of Appeal on more than $150 million in claims against former chartering partner, Yury Nikitin, and companies associated with him. A three-judge panel of the court ruled the Sovcomflot group’s “application does not raise an arguable point of law”. The court also penalized Sovcomflot and Novoship by ordering them to pay the legal costs of Nikitin against whom they have been litigating in London for a decade.
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SERGEI PUGACHEV IS THE BOY ON THE BURNING DECK – CONDEMNED BY THE UK HIGH COURT, ONLY THE FINANCIAL TIMES TO HANG ON TO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

One day in October the Financial Times newspaper went public with an endorsement of the truthfulness of Sergei Pugachev (lead image). On the same day, further down the Thames Embankment on the Strand, Pugachev was trying to convince the High Court of the same thing. Two reporters of the newspaper, Catherine Belton and Neil Buckley, fell for him. Justice Sir David Richards, the High Court expert on insolvency, didn’t. By British standards of evidence, that makes Belton and Buckley fools, liars, worse.
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EDWARD LUCAS – EX POST MERITO, PRE POST FACTO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Polish Foreign Ministry continues to declare that when Radosław Sikorski was foreign minister, Edward Lucas (lead image), a reporter for The Economist, was awarded the Bene Merito medal. This is the ministry’s announcement, dated November 13, 2009, and currently to be read on the ministry’s website. The ministry says Sikorski “has awarded” — that’s the ministry’s official continuous past tense — its medal to “Edward Lucas – journalist, European correspondent of “The Economist”. For bringing closer to many readers all over the world issues dealing with Poland’s interests to many readers all over the world in a well-disposed way.”
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DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA? COCA-COLA WON’T ADMIT ITS BRAND IS WORN OUT IN RUSSIA; DUMA TO CONSIDER A SUGAR TAX TO KNOCK COKE OUT OF THE MARKET ALTOGETHER

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, is having trouble swallowing in Russia. That’s to say, increasing numbers of Russian consumers have stopped drinking Coca-Cola, as well as the company’s other carbonated drinks and juices, forcing the closure of a half-billion dollars in beverage plant investment – and the concealment in US stock exchange reports of just how bad the situation is.
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MIKHAIL MARGELOV APPOINTED TO TRANSNEFT FOR “FOREIGN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND PUBLIC RELATIONS” – WHAT CAN BE RELATED NOW OF THE SECHIN-TIMCHENKO-TOKAREV ALLIANCE? MAKE THAT TRANSNEXT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Former Federation Council Senator and the Kremlin’s troubleshooter for Africa and maritime piracy, Mikhail Margelov (image left) has been appointed a vice president of Transneft, the state oil pipeline company. The October 29 announcement says Margelov “will be responsible for supervision of foreign economic activity and public relations.” Igor Dyomin, the press spokesman for Transneft’s chief executive, Nikolai Tokarev (right), said there will be no other personnel changes. “Why ? If everyone works efficiently? There is no plan of major reforms after Margelov has come into the company.”
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EDWARD LUCAS GETS HIS REWARD, AND HIS SAY

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Edward Lucas, a reporter for The Economist in London, has found fault with the accuracy of the report that Anne Applebaum has been receiving unaccountably large sums of money for her stand on the Ukraine civil war and regime change in Russia. For the full story of Applebaum’s employment and payments, as reported by her husband, ex-Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, together with the involvement of Lucas and his wife, Cristina Odone, spokesman for Applebaum and the Legatum Institute, click here.
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UKRAINE LOSES US ELECTION – AMERICAN VOTERS GIVE THUMBS DOWN TO DEMOCRATS’, HILLARY CLINTON’S WAR AGAINST RUSSIA

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By John Helmer, Moscow

From Arseny Yatseniuk’s point of view, the US election results could not have been worse for the not-Ukrainian-prime-minister-yet. Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president defeated when a minority of Ukrainians went to their ballot boxes on October 26, the US outcome is no better.

This is because exit polls are reporting the overwhelming majority of American voters to have ignored Ukraine and Russia at this week’s midterm Congressional elections, telling the winning candidates and the pollsters they have no appetite for confrontation with the Kremlin. That also means no mandate from US voters for the new Congress to spend cash in Kiev to save Ukrainians from the cold weather and the economy ruined by civil war. For most Americans, according to the polls, the cold and failing economy they are afraid of are at home

The second meaning of the US election result is that the US presidential campaign, which starts up immediately, can’t promise anything better for the Ukrainian war party or the Russian regime-changers. Rand Paul, the Republican Senator from Kentucky — who is opposed to the war with Russia he ties to officials around Hillary Clinton – made the point in 116 digital characters tweeted under the headline, HILLARY’S LOSERS: “You didnt think it could get worse than your book tour? It did. Courtesy of the U.S. voters.
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ANNE APPLEBAUM IS NOT A WAR PROFITEER, BUT HER HUSBAND REVEALS THAT SHE WAS PAID MORE THAN $800,000 IN 2013 – AND THAT WAS BEFORE THE SHOOTING STARTED IN UKRAINE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Anne Applebaum has been paid unaccountably large sums of money, according to official yearly income declarations by her husband, the ex-foreign minister of Poland, Radosław Sikorski. According to the annual reports required of Polish Government officials and members of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, Applebaum received a US income of $20,000 in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, this had jumped to $565,000.

Applebaum, who writes and lectures as an expert on Russia and Ukraine, did not earn the money from her US publishers, while Sikorski’s reports claim the money was unrelated to his activities as a foreign minister. The income was earned instead, he says, from “honoraria for books, articles and lectures”. According to Applebaum’s spokesman, she claims the right of privacy not to explain where the money came from, or why.
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THE HEMINGWAY OF LYING – FIGHTING WORDS FROM SPAIN TO UKRAINE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Fakery in allegiance to the truth.

That was how Henry Luce, the proprietor of Time, Life, and the March of Time newsreels, described his coverage of the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Luce’s fakery even won an Oscar that year for “revolutionizing” the newsreel medium. Beside Luce’s photographer in Spain that year, Robert Capa, Ernest Hemingway also faked names, battles, victories, defeats, body count. His allegiance, though, according to a new history of what he was doing as a reporter in Spain, was to money and celebrity; in short, himself. For Hemingway, his war paid about $250,000 in 1937-38 dollars. That’s more than $4 million today.

Though the bylines are less memorable, and the money is less, the Anglo-American reporters from this year’s Ukrainian civil war have composed the same record of selfie journalism. Seventy-seven years is too long to wait for another New York publisher’s history to show how they did it, and why.
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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
  @bears_with

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

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

(more…)
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