The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced yesterday that it has managed a successful private placement of a quarter of the stake it owns in Lenta, the Russian supermarket chain. The press release by Anthony Williams, head of the EBRD’s public relations, said the selloff had “attracted strong interest and demand from a broad mix of institutional investors internationally.” Credit for EBRD’s deal, in which it earned $140 million, was given to Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley acting as the joint bookrunners.
The catch is that EBRD’s sharebuyers insisted on a price discount of 7.6%. When the market woke up to what was happening, it sold Lenta down by almost 9%. (more…)
The German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 wiped out Amsterdam as the centre of the global diamond trade at the time. When the war ended, Antwerp, across the border in Belgium, was preferred by the diamantaires, and so it has remained. Until last week, perhaps.
That’s when the Belgian courts accepted an application from a group of Yukos shareholders to seek out and arrest bank accounts and other assets of identifiable Russian state entities. Alrosa, the state-owned diamond mining company, is considering whether it should continue to do business in Antwerp. Alrosa accounts for 28% of the world’s diamond supply, and 56% of Russian diamonds are exported to Belgium. As the Kremlin orders Russian trade in strategic commodities like oil and gas to move eastward and southward, away from Europe, will Alrosa redirect its diamonds? (more…)
With announcements they will trade crude oil in different directions, Russia’s state oil companies have this week put the kybosh on Ziyavudin Magomedov’s (lead image, left) attempt to establish himself as the oligarch in charge of Russia’s westward oil trade to Europe. Magomedov’s demise follows the decline in political influence of Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dorkovich (right), Magomedov’s ally and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s protege. Magomedov, sources in the maritime sector say confidentially, is unable to raise financing for his Summa group in the US or Europe, and Dvorkovich and Medvedev have been unable to help him with money from the Russian state banks. Dvorkovich is now thinking of a job outside the government, the sources add. (more…)
In the seedier studios of California, when the director cries “We’ve got wood!” he means the male lead has an erection, and it’s his cue to start his business while the cameras roll at a pornographic scene. Russia’s plywood business isn’t as sexy, but it’s faster growing and bigger too. It’s also becoming a oligopoly for Alexei Mordashov, who is already the well-known oligarch of the Russian steel and mining sectors.
Mordashov (lead image) met President Vladimir Putin in January. He claims he got the president’s go-ahead to build a new wood-processing complex at the village of Suda, outside Cherepovets. Public opposition is fierce – so fierce that the Kremlin is concealing what exactly Putin and Mordashov said about the project at their meeting; how much state money will be given to Mordashov for the scheme; and what Putin intends to do next. Not since Putin took sides with the locals in Irkutsk region against Oleg Deripaska’s paper and pulp plant on the edge of Lake Baikal, has there been such a test of Russians, oligarchs, the President – and who has wood. (more…)
In publishing on Russia, there comes a time when a writer, journalist, bank analyst, television presenter, or academic produces something so lacking in truthfulness, so replete with fawning and meretriciousness, that this website must kill and skin another goat; dry out the vellum; and have a fresh scroll inscribed with the Cat’s Paw – that’s the Personal Abasement Award (PAW).
This award is designed to encourage accountability and ethical reporting on Russia. The PAW committee decided to suspend the Cat’s Paw awards when the start of the Ukraine civil war threatened to overwhelm the supply of vellum and the goat population on which it depends. The goats who have earned the Cat’s PAW scroll have also multiplied exponentially. (more…)
Records uncovered in Canada reveal that Oleg Deripaska’s (lead image, right) Moscow holding EN+, which is the controlling shareholder of United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly, is controlled by Cash Titan Mining Corporation Group Ltd. This company has an office at 1 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario. The premises exist, but the company doesn’t — at least not in the federal Canadian and Ontario company registers. How can such a phantom represent itself as the offshore owner, and what part does it play in the plan Rusal announced in 2013 “for the transfer of financial and economic activity to the territory of Russia”?
The answer ought to be available from Philippe Mailfait, a 64-year old French national and Montreal businessman, who sits on the board of EN+ as an “independent director”. Cash Titan Mining lists Mailfait as its only director. But Mailfait
cannot be found, and EN+ won’t confirm he exists. (more…)
What to do if you are a Russian mining company with a billion dollars’ worth of asset exposure securing large debts, and your chain of production is struck at start and finish by corruption scandals, international litigation, popular protest, collapse of government authority, and homicidal violence? The solution is to pretend to your bankers you aren’t Russian — and privately beg the Kremlin for help.
That is what the Solway Group of companies has been doing at its nickel mine in central Guatemala, and at its ferronickel refinery in southeast Ukraine. Asked about Solway’s Russian roots by a Ukrainian reporter last month, Solway’s chief executive Daniel Bronstein replied that “Solway Investment Group is a Cyprus-based international industrial group with a 100% EU capital and operational offices in Luxemburg, Switzerland and Estonia.”
At almost the same time, a Russian source in Guatemala City said the Russian Ambassador, Nikolai Babich, had been to see the President of Guatemala, Otto Molina, to ask for his intervention on behalf of the mine’s Russian management and the Solway owners. (more…)
In the history of warfare there is nothing new in the engagement of mercenaries to do the fighting and run the risks. The mamelukes (mamluks) were the most successful at the game — they started as slaves, became a warfighting caste, and ended as the rulers of the countries they captured, including Egypt and Syria from 1250 to 1517, and Iraq from 1704 to 1831. They defeated the European Crusaders. From then on, the term mameluke, when applied to someone in Europe, meant slavish obedience — the antithesis of independence. Napoleon employed a corps of them, and his long-serving bodyguard was one.
Sir Roderic Lyne (lead image, 3rd from left) is the number-2 executive in charge of the Royal Institute for International affairs (RIIA), known by its residence in London as Chatham House. Insiders say Lyne, a former British ambassador to Russia, has captured the organization, and turned it into a warfighting unit against Russia, though, the sources say, not without a fight. Amongst the organization’s members and financiers, opponents of the Lyne line against Russia accuse him of suppressing independence, and by promoting war against Russia of violating the Chatham House charter. (more…)
The scaffolding is going up around the walls of Chatham House in London — we shall not see it dismantled again in our lifetime. Not even if the Royal Institute of International Affairs says it is doing no more than a repaint job.
According to a fresh report from inside the building, issued on June 4, it’s time to strike at Russia with “defensive strategic communications and media support…promoting truthful accounts of Western policies and values… through EU and NATO cooperation.”
In the City of London this is known as talking one’s book. On Madison Avenue, in New York City, it’s called advertising. Chatham House is applying for money for former British government officials to write reports to US, British and NATO intelligence agencies for the job of winning over, or neutralizing, those who are victims of Russian disinformation because they don’t believe what the US, British and NATO intelligence agencies have been telling them. The more incredible this proposition sounds, the more urgently Sir Roderic Lyne and Sir Andrew Wood and several other Chatham House apparatchiki say they need the money. (more…)
The semi-annual Russian art sales in London this week have finally responded to the laws of economics and politics. But softcore girlies and boy’s buttocks drew better than their estimated money shots, demonstrating that even on the eastern front, making love, not war, is still good for the art house. (more…)
Russia survived the threat of a homosexual boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, handily. But can it survive the threatened boycott of the 2018 World Cup from a wannabe candidate to lead a minority party in the House of Commons; a British prince whose chance of becoming king is, failing accidents, at least 20 years off; and four US senators, one of whom has been indicted for taking bribes himself. The answer is yes – Russia will survive even this; and also what President Vladimir Putin has called a case of the US “illegally persecuting people”.
For the moment, though, no Russian owner of an international football team is willing to go public with a defence of Russia’s World Cup. Nor are they willing to endorse Putin’s claim that the US corruption charges against officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) are a political plot for “ulterior purposes”. Against Russia, Putin means. (more…)
The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.
In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration: “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”
By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”
To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.
A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”
The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.
Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.” Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the 6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected, Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.
The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.
Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.
By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.
Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”
The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire, the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.
In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders, knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.
Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.
In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”
This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention. In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.
Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials, to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.
By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.
US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11 highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.
In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.