WHAT IS RUSSIA’S ANSWER TO GREECE’S PLAN B — SMILE, BLOW THE WHISTLE, PASS THE RED CARD

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Kremlin doesn’t want to say so exactly. But right now it is as reluctant to support the Greek Government in its conflict with Germany, as Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Politburo wanted to back the Greek Communist Party during the Greek civil war between 1946 and 1949. So, when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) met in Moscow with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotsias (left) two weeks ago, he offered Athens a hypothetical conditional: “Russia is also in a tough financial situation caused by a unilateral illegitimate policy of our Western colleagues. However, if the government of Greece ever comes up with any requests then, as Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said, they will, of course, be considered…”

Speaking a few hours before on Athens television, the new Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos proposed the Greek hypothetical conditional: “if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow apart Europe, then we have the obligation to go to Plan B. Plan B is to get funding from another source. It could the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries.”

Asked to say what Greek Government requests Finance Minister Siluanov is considering, the ministry spokesman said today – nothing. That’s to say, the Greeks haven’t proposed a Plan B, and if they do, the Russian response will be — nothing. The Russian reason – the new Greek Government, like its predecessors, is regarded by the Kremlin as a US client, engaged in secret dealings with Washington which would put a Russian loan, if it were extended, at risk of being wasted, or lost.
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UMBRELLA STRATEGY KEEPS RUSAL AFLOAT, FAILS TO BREACH HK$6 THRESHOLD — OLEG DERIPASKA GAINS FROM UKRAINE WAR, SANCTIONS, AND RUSSIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska (left), chief executive of the Russian state aluminium monopoly Rusal, makes a practice of thriving when everyone else is suffering. That’s because the Russian government and the state banks cast a more protective cover over heavy debtors when times are bad than when times are better.

Rusal owes $9 billion, a sum that has been greater than its stock market capitalization for much of the past year. But since January 1 Rusal’s share price has been doing so well, the company has issued notices to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange claiming it is innocent of any hanky panky. If Deripaska isn’t protesting too much, what then is driving Rusal’s apparent recovery so far this year?
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VICTOR PINCHUK FACES RUIN – DNIEPROPETROVSK WORKERS IN MASSIVE LAYOFFS, AS PINCHUK GIVES $40,000 AWAY MONTHLY IN WASHINGTON; US AND EU REFUSE LIFEBUOY

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Victor Pinchuk, the Ukrainian oligarch who took sides for the European Union (EU) against Russia, is running out of money, company officials admitted last week in a confidential briefing.

Pinchuk has been forced to provide his company with $20 million in emergency cash to stave off insolvency, but bondholders and banks owed more than $1 billion have not been paid. Although company officials admit that Interpipe, their pipemaking business in Dniepropetrovsk, has not been attacked directly by the fighting in Donbass, they say they are now cut off from supplies of scrap steel for smelters, electricity, and coal from Lugansk and Donetsk. As a result, Pinchuk is now planning to lay off at least 3,000 workers – one-fifth of his Dniepropetrovsk workforce. A brewing worker rebellion and bankruptcy action by unpaid bondholders are part of what one Interipe executive calls Pinchuk’s “fundamental risk”.

The timing of the disclosures could not be worse for Pinchuk, or for Dniepropetrovsk — until now the bastion of Igor Kolomoisky, Pinchuk’s commercial rival and governor of the region. Pinchuk was the target in the US last week as US newspapers opened investigations into the flow of money Pinchuk has directed to the Clinton Foundation, and to lobbying for commercial and political favours from Hillary Clinton and State Department officials directing the Kiev administration.

According to Interpipe sources, neither the EU nor the US is buying enough Pinchuk pipes to offset the shutout in the Russian market, and the collapse of demand in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The drop in the global oil price has triggered sharp cutbacks in oilfield spending and pipe demand in the US and the Middle East. The American shale oil boom has proved no good for Pinchuk too, because shale oil drilling requires premium pipes which Interpipe doesn’t manufacture.
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THE HUNT FOR BURISMA, PART II — WHAT ROLE FOR IGOR KOLOMOISKY, WHAT LONDON MISSED, WHAT WASHINGTON DOESN’T WANT TO SEE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Central Criminal Court have reported that Nikolai Zlochevsky, a Ukrainian businessman and twice the minister of state for oil and gas licences, is the controlling shareholder of the Ukrainian gas producer Burisma. So what are employees of Igor Kolomoisky, warlord of Dniepropetrovsk and controller of the Privatbank Group, doing as the shareholder representatives on the Burisma board?

Kolomoisky isn’t the accommodating, retiring, passive sort, say sources who work with him. Zlochevsky has the more bending character of the two, the sources claim. So is Burisma their cooperative and joint venture, or is Zlochevsky Kolomoisky’s front-man, just as others were for Zlochevsky in the ten-year history of Burisma’s acquisition of valuable oil and gas prospects.
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THE HUNT FOR BURISMA – WHEN THE PACK OF HOUNDS IS MISSING ITS MASTER, THE FOX ESCAPES

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Burisma, an influential Ukrainian oil and gas company with disputed ownership involving Nikolai Zlochevsky and Igor Kolomoisky, is under criminal investigation in the UK. But you wouldn’t know it from a release issued by the company on January 22. According to Burisma, “Britain closed criminal proceedings against the assets of Nikolay Zlochevskyi [sic]. The case was closed after the Court analyzed the period from 2002 to December 2014 for alleged illegality of the source of funds of companies the ultimate beneficiary of which was Nikolay Zlochevskyi [sic] and ‘found no grounds for further consideration of the case’, said the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales decision.”

A statement issued yesterday by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in London, which initiated the criminal proceedings against Zlochevsky in April of 2014, said its investigation of Zlochevsky and Burisma is “ongoing”. The SFO regrets, it added, that unexplained changes of position by the state prosecutor in Kiev led to last month’s court judgement. “We are disappointed,” said the SFO spokesman, “we were not provided with the evidence by authorities in the Ukraine necessary to keep this restraint order in place. Our criminal investigation continues.”

No trace of Burisma’s “no grounds” quotation from the court judgement can be found.
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RED SCARE, BLACK HOLE – SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ATTACK ROSATOM FOR “HOLDING GUN TO SOUTH AFRICA’S HEAD”

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By John Helmer, Moscow

South African government officials have attacked Russia’s bid to supply South Africa’s new nuclear reactor programme, accusing Rosatom, the state nuclear power agency, of imposing financially and legally disadvantageous terms which the South Africans, speaking anonymously, term “scary”.

The attack was launched Friday in the Mail & Guardian, a local newspaper associated with the Guardian of London. Just one SA Government official, Enver Daniels, the chief state law advisor in Pretoria, was identified as behind the allegations. Speaking anonymously to the newspaper also was a group identified as “numerous”, and representing the SA ministries of energy, international relations, trade and industry, and the treasury.

The SA officials launched their attack on Rosatom after the full text of the Rosatom agreement on nuclear cooperation with South Africa was discovered openly published on a Russian Foreign Ministry website. The SA Government continues to keep the text of the Rosatom agreement classified. The accusing officials are also familiar with the terms of rival nuclear cooperation agreements signed with the French state company Areva, and with the Chinese government, in collaboration with the US. The SA officials are keeping silent on the terms of these pacts, and on a lobbying campaign by the US and France to drive the Russians out of the running for the $50 billion contract, the largest state procurement in SA history.
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PUTIN SUBMARINES SURROUND AUSTRALIA WITHIN RANGE OF US BASES – RAY ATOMIZES AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It is eleven weeks since President Vladimir Putin visited Brisbane, Australia, for a summit meeting of the G20 states. Putin was escorted in the Coral Sea, east of Brisbane, by a Russian Navy flotilla making the longest deployment of the Russian surface fleet ever displayed. Including Russian submarines shadowing the flotilla, this was also the most powerful Russian force ever to practice aiming at targets on the Australian continent operated by the Australian Defence Forces, the US military, or the two at bases they operate together.

Because these bases run in secret, most Australians had no idea what was happening, and what was changing. The Australian media – controlled by three proprietors — Rupert Murdoch; the government; and until February 6 a mining oligarch called Gina Rinehart — didn’t alert them. For the story the Australian and Russian press didn’t report, click.

The Russian Navy off the Australian east coast in November was armed with ballistic and cruise missiles, with nuclear warheads capable of striking every US warfighting base on the Australian continent, plus the Australian cities. Like Putin, the flotilla withdrew northwards to base on November 16. They left behind a death ray which is destroying the local politicians most hostile to receiving Putin at the summit.
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HARVARD ACADEMIC TIMOTHY COLTON WASN’T A PENTAGON SPY WHEN HE MET VLADIMIR PUTIN AND DMITRY MEDVEDEV — HE WAS A CONSULTANT TO THE NAVAL WAR COLLEGE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Timothy Colton, a Russia expert at Harvard University in the US, has admitted he has been engaged in research on Russia’s leaders as part of the Pentagon’s top-secret Operation BODY LEADS. Top-secret, that is, until last week’s disclosure of the operation to investigate President Vladimir Putin’s and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s brains from their body movements and other evidence gathered under cover by academics and journalists. According to Colton, “I was not and never have been in any way a clandestine military contractor. I have never had a security clearance, and I have never conducted classified research for any organization.”

The disclosure sheds new light on the operation of universities, think-tanks and academic researchers engaged in the US Government’s campaign to overthrow the Putin government.
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THE ILLEGALITY OF SANCTIONS – UK HIGH COURT SENDS ROSNEFT CLAIM TO EUROPEAN COURT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The UK High Court has rejected a lawsuit by Rosneft challenging the legality of sanctions against its oilfield operations and international financing.

The court has ruled that for testing the legality of the sanctions British law and British courts are subordinate to the European Union, and that Rosneft must try its case in the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in Luxembourg. The ruling, which was issued on Monday, contradicts the judgement of the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court, which decided last March that sanctions against the Iranian bank, Bank Mellat, had violated British law. The new judgement makes no reference to this or any other case decided recently in London on the illegality of UK Government sanctions.

The ruling by Lord Justice Sir Jack Beatson (lead image) and Justice Sir Nicholas Green also flies in the face of the British Government’s promise to preserve the primacy of the British courts over the EU judiciary, and keep London’s market dominance for global litigation. Acknowledging that the issue will be tested in the parliamentary election due in three months’ time, embattled Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed: “We want to make the Supreme Court supreme”. Cameron has promised to introduce a new Act of Parliament to establish the superior status in law of UK courts over the European Court.” That hasn’t happened.
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POLAND’S LOBBY FOR UKRAINE ENJOYED KOLOMOISKY BANK LINK – MAREK DABROWSKI REPLIES

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Polish figures and former officials who have been leading the campaign for Polish financial and military aid to the Ukrainian Government in Kiev may have been lobbyists for Igor Kolomoisky’s PrivatBank, when he was trying to obtain a Polish banking licence.

Documents sent and received by PrivatBank, just published in Warsaw, reveal that Kolomoisky’s bank engaged a law firm in Warsaw to direct the lobbying campaign. The documents claim the campaign involved Polish academic and finance official, Marek Dabrowski, in an attempt to lobby his friend, Leszek Balcerowicz, when Balcerowicz was President of the National Bank of Poland (NBP). According to sources with direct knowledge of what happened, when the Polish secret services recommended against licensing Kolomoisky’s bank, Dabrowski and Balcerowicz were invited to endorse an indirect plan for Kolomoisky to acquire control of Bud-Bank (Bank Budownictwa Mieszkaniowego), a small, state-owned Polish institution which was already licenced.

The documents released to date suggest that current links between the Polish names and current members of the Ukrainian war party may have started as business links between them a decade ago. Dabrowski categorically denies involvement in, or knowledge of the licence process or of the lobbying campaign. The documents substantiate no wrongdoing by the Poles or Ukrainians engaged in PrivatBank’s bid, which ultimately failed to win Polish approval.
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AMAZING PENTAGON WEAPON PENETRATES PUTIN’S BRAIN BEFORE HE WAS BORN – PRESIDENT REAGAN’S BRAIN SECRET CONFIRMED, PETRO POROSHENKO’S AND VICTORIA NULAND’S, TOO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The latest release from the Pentagon in the psywar against Russia is a declassified report claiming to have penetrated the brain of President Vladimir Putin, while he was in utero.

The release appears to be from the same research group whose secret exploration of Ronald Reagan’s brain was leaked to Garry Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comic strip, in October 1980, in the last weeks of the US presidential election when the incumbent Jimmy Carter was defeated by Reagan. The Pentagon reporting also acknowledges as a source of its expertise one of the creators of an American television series which was produced and broadcast by Rupert Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox between 2009 and 2011.

A Time Magazine interview of Putin as the “Person of the Year” for 2007 is revealed as the cover for a Pentagon-directed operation using special cameras to record Putin’s micro-muscular movements and verbalizations over several hours. Also exposed in the newly released papers is the covert engagement of Harvard University academic Timothy Colton, who was commissioned by the Pentagon’s top secret operation BODY LEADS to deploy at the annual Valdai Discussion Club between Russian offiicals and international academics and journalists. Colton’s Pentagon assignment at Valdai was to gather and interpret secret body and vocalization data on Putin, as well as on former president Dmitry Medvedev.
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THE POLITICAL MOTIVATION OF CHANCELLOR MERKEL’S EMBRACE OF YULIA TYMOSHENKO, AND WAR

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Two-front wars in Europe aren’t good for Germany.

Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolph Hitler don’t need to rise from their graves to make the point to the present German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. But is it her policy to pursue war against Russia in the east, and against Greece in the south, while claiming the conflicts have been forced on her by chekist Russians and chekist Greeks? The German characterization of both enemies as chekist comes from a high-level German figure who is close to the Chancellery and how Merkel thinks. In Berlin’s version of war in Europe, the new Nazis are in Moscow and Athens.

As for one of the leaders of the war party in Kiev, Merkel has privately and publicly endorsed every claim of Yulia Tymoshenko, promoting her release from prison and protecting her campaigns for war against Russia, even though – according to the high-level German source – “they [Chancellery, Foreign Ministry] have known for years that [Tymoshenko] was a crook.”
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US JUDGE PROTECTS PUTIN DIAMOND MINE — LUKOIL ESCAPES US COURT TEST OF 17-YEAR MINE FRAUD

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By John Helmer, Moscow

A federal US judge has dismissed a 17-year long attempt by Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) to recover damages for the alleged theft of its stake in a multibillion-dollar Russian diamond mine by two Russian oligarchs, Alisher Usmanov and Vagit Alekperov (lead image, left), and Alekperov’s company, LUKoil. The legal action protects LUKoil, which has been under US Government sanctions since September 12, from liabilities — if the ADC lawsuit were to succeed — of almost $5 billion.
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THE THINK-TANK THAT BLASTS FROM THE PAST – THE CASE OF CASE, CRONIES AGAINST SELF-SACRIFICE IN EUROPE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

There are about 450 think-tanks in Europe and the US currently focusing on international relations, war, peace, and economic security. Of these, about one hundred regularly analyse Russian affairs. And of these, less than ten aren’t committed antagonists of Russia. That’s barely two percent of the intellectual materiel which can be counted as non-partisan or neutral in the infowar now underway between the NATO alliance and Russia. In this balance of forces, think-tanks behave like tanks – that’s the weapon, not the cistern.

The Centre for Social and Economic Research (CASE) has been based in Warsaw since 1991. It claims on its website to be “an independent non-profit economic and public policy research institution founded on the idea that evidence-based policy making is vital to the economic welfare of societies.” In its 2013 annual report, declares: “we seek to maintain a strict sense of non-partisanship in all of our research, advisory and educational activities.” Three-quarters of CASE’s annual revenues come from the European Commission; another 9% from American and other international organizations. According to CASE, that’s “an indication of progressive diversification of CASE revenue sources.”

CASE Ukraine is a branch of this Polish think-tank, and at the same time a descendant, it claims, of a Harvard University-funded group which was active between 1996 and 1999. Registered since 1999 as CASE Ukraine, this calls itself “an independent Ukrainian NGO specializing in economic research, macroeconomic policy analysis and forecasting.” According to parent CASE in Warsaw, one of the group’s goals is “promoting cooperation and integration with the neighboring partners of Europe”. This means, not only CASE Ukraine, but CASE Kyrgyzstan, CASE Moldova, CASE Georgia, and in Russia, the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy.
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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.

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