THIS YEAR’S MAY DAY MESSAGE IS – HIT THE RED BUTTON, CALL A JOURNALIST FOR HELP (OR IS IT THE BLUE BUTTON?)

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“Journalists and activists should be trained and funded to investigate this world. Currently there are brave groups working independently in various countries, but little coordination. Those investigating corruption need to be protected by a legal fund so they are not intimidated by threats of libel.” — Peter Pomeranzev, April 15, 2014, US House Foreign Affairs Committee (early dementia symptoms: can’t spell, can’t check, lost track of time).

AUDITIONS FOR KREMLIN PRE-SELECTION – NEW POLITICAL TECHNOLOGY, NO VOTERS, NO JOKE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Heeeeeeeeere’s Sasha, Boris, Andrei, Olga, Zahar, Ella, Sergei, Seriosha, Pavel, Natalia! That’s the top-10 of the top-100 Russian politicians auditioning for election and power, picked this week by 26 experts; paid for by the Kremlin budget; and reporting to Vyacheslav Volodin. He’s the deputy head of the President’s administration in charge of electioneering.

You’re a voter but you’ve never heard of the Top-10? How about the ten names of the top-100 whom the experts classifiy as moving up: Sergei Aksyonov, Pavel Krasheninnikov, Natalia Poklonskaya, Anatoly Aksakov, Valery Rashkin, Sergei Kalashnikov, Vladimir Gutenev, Mikhail Starshikov, Oleg Shein, and Alexei Zhuravlev?

Still in the dark? Try the five new names whom the experts didn’t acknowledge as comers a year ago: Nikolai Nikolaev, Konstantin Dobrynin, Nikolai Starikov, Konstantin Babkin, and Mikhail Terentiev. Can’t recognize who they are – never mind, these candidates are being selected for the Kremlin vote. Your vote comes later, if at all.
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THE FOOTNOTE TO THE SMALL PRINT OF THE IMF LOAN – UKRAINE FAILS AGAIN, POLISH OLIGARCH JAN KULCZYK BEGS FOR KIEV BAILOUT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

What if the Ukrainian government resumes the war noone wants to pay for – not the US, the European Union, Poland, Canada, least of all Kiev?

Public statements by Ukrainian and international officials identify two payment deadlines for war, and for peace. The first falls on May 31, Natalie Jaresko, the US minister of Ukrainian Finance, has told the London Times, when $15.3 billion in sovereign bond debt must be written off “through lower interest rates, longer payment terms, and in some cases, a cut in the sum owed.” The second deadline falls a month later, at the end of June, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must decide whether the government in Kiev has met the conditions required for payment of $1.5 billion, the second instalment of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) which commenced just six weeks ago. A default on May 31 will make inevitable a delay in IMF loan disbursement in June. The combination will halt the European Union promise to start a new €1.8 billion in Macro Financial Assistance (MFA).

Russian sources believe that unless Kiev starts a new military offensive in the Donbass within days, when cross-border Russian action can be blamed, creditor governments pressured into paying and bondholders into conceding losses, there won’t be enough cash later on to pay for troops, machines and ammunition.
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RUSSIAN LAW ON INCOME AND ASSET DISCLOSURE HITS AND RUNS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Disclosure by Russian officials of state companies of their annual incomes and property is required by Russian law. There are four exceptions. The first is when the officials required to disclose don’t want to. The second is when the prime ministry is persuaded to let them. The third is when the Kremlin is persuaded not to disagree. The fourth is when President Vladimir Putin says it’s up to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to settle the matter.
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OFFSHORIZATION IN THE WILDS OF BORNEO — ANDREI MELNICHENKO AND NATHANIEL ROTHSCHILD MAKE MONKEY OF KREMLIN

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Andrei Melnichenko (lead image, left) and Nathaniel Rothschild (right) are offering $100 million in cash, plus refinancing of at least $450 million in debt notes expiring in eight weeks. That’s money London bankers say Rothschild doesn’t have, and Melnichenko can’t borrow. The offer is for the takeover of Asia Resource Minerals Plc (ARMS), a London-listed operator of coalmines in Indonesia.

From his Channel Island headquarters Rothschild has announced the deal with Melnichenko for a joint takeover bid. But in Cyprus, where he is headquartered, Melnichenko is saying nothing. In Moscow, the Russian interpretation is a combination of scorn for Rothschild, and a determination to make out of an improbable business deal in Borneo the appearance of international clout which Russian business has lost. According to Russian investment banker number-1: “I have spent enough time in Indonesia so that I never even try to do business here – the deck is stacked against you. Nat is a serial [expletive; translation, passive recipient of forcible intercourse], and he is in for yet another treat.” Russian investment banker No. 2: “Russians are trying to break out of the corner in which the Americans have confined them. They will use any pretext. – any kind of foreign venture is designed to make Russian business legitimate and powerful looking. This is driven by the huge inferiority complex now felt by highly leveraged men like Melnichenko. They need to show they still can [expletive; translation, active initiator of forcible intercourse].”
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SO LONG SIKLEBAUM – POLAND UNDER US PRESSURE OVER FAILURE OF WAR AGAINST EASTERN UKRAINE, RUSSIA

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Eastern European alliance in the war against Russia is cracking up.

In Poland, voters will elect a new president on May 10, and then a new parliament and prime minister by October 30. On present polls, the pro-American war factions are unlikely to win. That will mean the elimination, at least in Poland, of Radosław Sikorski (lead image, left), last year’s Anglo-Polish foreign minister, this year’s speaker of the Polish parliament (Sejm); and of his Anglo-American wife, Anne Applebaum (right).

The Siklebaums aren’t the only casualties. Victoria Nuland, leader of the war party at the State Department in Washington, tweeted from Warsaw last week: “I think countries like the United States and Poland, need to do everything we can to support the Ukrainians.” Polish officials told Nuland, after downgrading her meetings to the lowest possible protocol level, that enough is enough.
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THE CASE OF ANDREJ BABIS, THE POTENTATE OF PRAGUE — HOW THE WAR PARTY IN WASHINGTON IS LOSING EASTERN EUROPE, HILLARY CLINTON TOO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Andrej Babis is the one of the wealthiest men in eastern Europe — if you bite bread, read a newspaper, fill your car with fuel, or put fertilizer on your window box in Prague, chances are you owe Babis money. He is also Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Finance Minister, and candidate to become the next Czech President.

When Babis announced on Friday in Washington that he is planning to sue the US foreign policy establishment for libel, he wasn’t bluffing. His aim is to stop the US State Department, American officers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and the war party in Kiev from attacking him as a Kremlin stooge.

The rise of Babis is also the takeoff of another albatross which is about to hang itself around the neck of candidate to become President of the US, Hillary Clinton. For it’s her campaign booster and pollster, Douglas Schoen and his old firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), which claim credit for inventing Babis’s political party, Akce Nespokojených Občanů (Action of Dissatisfied Citizens) – the acronym ANO also means “yes” in Czech – and putting Babis in power. From non-existence in 2011, ANO took 19% of the votes in the Czech lower house election of 2013, a close second behind the ruling Social-Democratic Party; 17% in the Czech senate election of last October. According to the American pollster, PSB’s Czech-educated executive, Alexander Braun is the winner of several US awards for his Czech political campaigns. He also claims credit, along with Schoen, for advising “notable clients…includ[ing] Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton, as well as presidents in Mexico, Ukraine, and Philippines.”
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THE LOOPHOLE TO END, ER OPEN, ALL LOOPHOLES – THE NEW RUSSIAN TRUST

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By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin has lost the war. Not the one with Washington for the future of Europe, eastern Ukraine, and the Kremlin itself. That war isn’t going so badly for Putin. The one he is losing is with the Russian oligarchs on whether they will repatriate their assets from their offshore havens, subject themselves to genuine auditors, and pay Russian tax.

Putin conceded defeat, a powerful international banker believes, when the president announced late last month that he accepts the establishment of Russian trusts to hold assets and income onshore and offshore without liability to pay domestic tax. According to Putin on March 25, “this is an innovation in our legislation, which before we didn’t have.”

“Russian capital,” the banker says, “has been saying from the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine that it wants Putin to abandon his deoffshorization plan. It’s going to succeed because the sanctions imposed since the conflict began have cut off the regular supply of capital to Russia. Capital isn’t patriotic, at least not in Russia. Putin is obliged to pretend he can persuade the oligarchs to act in the country’s interest. But he’s pretending. The proposed new law on trusts shows it.”
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OLEG DERIPASKA PUFFS RUSAL SHARE VALUE FOR DEBT NEGOTIATION WITH SBERBANK, VTB – GERMAN GREF UNIMPRESSED, SHARE PRICE COLLAPSES

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Insiders at the Russian aluminium monopoly Rusal say that chief executive and control shareholder Oleg Deripaska has been miscalculating the effect of share price surges Rusal has enjoyed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in recent weeks. That’s because the share price gains have been quickly reversed – and because Rusal’s most important lender, state owned Sberbank, is unpersuaded that the value of the company is gaining.

Sources on the Hong Kong exchange acknowledge a case officer has been assigned to monitor share trading of Rusal, and that he has been aware of abnormal trade volumes on several days in February and March, along with seesawing in the price of the share. But the Exchange chief executive, Charles Li, is reluctant to confirm what the exchange has done to uncover what happened and enforce exchange trading rules. The exchange is also afraid of being accused of covering up irregular trading practice and inside information. According to Li’s spokesman, Scott Sapp, “HKEx does not comment on individual companies or its regulatory actions.” Sapp then asked not to be named.
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A GOOD NIGHT’S REST IN CLEVELAND, OHIO – IGOR KOLOMOISKY HAS BEEN SECRETLY INVESTING IN MIDWEST REAL ESTATE, AND IN KENTUCKY, TEXAS, FLORIDA TOO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

When Ukrainian warlords need a well-earned rest from fighting the civil war, there’s always Cleveland, under State Department protection, or Miami for the warm weather.

Igor Kolomoisky has accumulated more than a quarter of a billion dollars in US investments through a chain of front companies which stretch from several American states to Miami, Florida, to Cyprus, and to the Caribbean. He has also managed to keep his name out of the public record of the American transactions. But the money trail in some of his deals, and at least one of his partners, have come under scrutiny by US and state government agencies, and federal courts in several US states.

Kolomoisky himself, according to a Kiev source and a federal US court filing in December 2012, “has traveled to the United States over the past few years and should have no trouble obtaining a visa.” Kolomoisky has been in the US in recent days, reportedly on a restricted visa, in order to discuss his future and the future of his American assets with US Government officials. Public records reveal that the value of these assets has been falling sharply, and that some may be sold in debt default auctions unless Kolomoisky can persuade state and federal government agencies to provide subsidies, concessional utility rates, tax and other credits.

Sources in Cleveland, Ohio, where Kolomoisky has control over several downtown buildings and a hotel, report that his assets there have lost market value since he acquired them. “Out of state investors think they will make a ton of money,” one of the sources said. “they don’t. I don’t think [Kolomoisky] made any money [in Cleveland].”
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THE EASTER BUNNY GOES TO KIEV — CANADA ANNOUNCES SECOND UKRAINE LOAN OF $200 MILLION — AUDIT PROVISIONS DROPPED FOR $400 MILLION IN CANADIAN FINANCING FOR UKRAINE’S MILITARY OPERATIONS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Canadian Government announced last week it is giving away another
C$200 million to Ukraine, topping the $200 million handed to Kiev last September.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson concedes the money is not being audited as the announced loan agreements require. Nicholson, according to Johanna Quinney in Ottawa, doesn’t know whether the first $200 million has been spent through the Ukrainian budget on military operations in the civil war in the east, or against Russia. In signing for the money to fund the war, Nicholson, who is running for election in six months’ time in the Niagara Falls constituency near the US frontier, may be violating Canadian law, Ottawa sources say.
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IGOR KOLOMOISKY’S SNOW JOB — CYPRUS MONEY-LAUNDERING UNIT RESPONDS TO UKRAINIAN REPORTS, KOLOMOISKY IN US NEGOTIATIONS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Cyprus Government’s unit for combating money-laundering will consider an investigation of Igor Kolomoisky if it is requested by the Ukrainian or US Governments, Eva Papakyriacou revealed on Tuesday. Papakyriacou is the head of the unit, whose acronym, following the Greek, is MOKAS.

She declined to say if there has been a request for investigation, either by a foreign government, or by the Cyprus government agencies responsible for Kolomoisky’s Cyprus passport, or the source of funds of his Privatbank group in Cyprus. “All the information possessed by MOKAS is confidential,” Papakyriakou said. “However, it is noted that the source of funds is checked by the Banks and the Supervisory Authority for Banks is the Central Bank.”
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BLACK BOXES, BLACK HOLES IN THE MH17 INVESTIGATION – WHY ARE THE FRENCH SO SWIFT AND REVEALING, THE DUTCH SO SLOW AND UNREVEALING?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

On July 17, 2014, at 1320 Universal Time Coordinated (UTC)* , Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. The investigating authority, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), reported within five days that the two black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR – lead image, left) and the flight data recorder (FDR), had been recovered. On September 9, eight weeks after the crash, the DSB issued what it called a preliminary report.

On March 24, 2015, at 1041 local time, Germanwings flight 4U9525 crashed in southeastern France. The first black box, the CVR (lead image, right), was recovered within the first 12 hours, and the contents reported to the media by investigators of the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA). The second black box, the FDR, was found on April 2. The BEA released a summary of what it contained one day later. According to French reporters, the time elapsing between the discovery of the CVR and public disclosure of its contents was less than 24 hours – “overnight we went from zero information to knowing everything”, Paris-Match has reported.

Comparing the two crash investigations, the Dutch and the French, the disclosures have been very much slower in release for the MH17 case – and almost totally unrevealing. Is this evidence about what really happened to the aircraft – or is it evidence about the forces to which the investigators have succumbed?
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NO JOKE — WHY FAKING IS FAILING IN THE RUSSIAN ART MARKET

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Forgery in the Russian art market is diminishing. “The situation is becoming much better. There are now very few fakes,” reports James Butterwick, a London-based dealer and specialist in Russian art. “This has nothing to do with the experts. The market is the expert now, and it’s become very difficult to buy a picture of dubious authenticity. Save us from the academics and the connoisseurs.”
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RASH OR RASHER — OLEG DERIPASKA TRIES SELLING CHINESE INVESTORS A SLICE OF KUBAN AGRO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska, control shareholder and chief executive of the Russian state aluminium monopoly Rusal, hasn’t exactly made a positive rate of return for Asian investors. In fact, share-buyers at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are likely to conclude that he’s made a hash of every venture he’s tried to bring to that particular market.

Starting with Rusal, the first Russian corporate issue on the Hong Kong exchange, the share dropped 8% on its debut in January 2010, and the company has subsequently lost more than half its initial capitalization. Why then should Deripaska risk his reputation and asset value again with a fresh offer to Asian investors, particularly the Chinese? Answer: he has no reputation and little asset value left to lose.
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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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