The Australian Government is sure the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) investigation of the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 will fail to identify the precise cause of the crash, and will be inconclusive on who and what were responsible. A report, termed final by the DSB, is scheduled for release on October 13.
So certain of the outcome are Australian officials that since May they have been negotiating with the Dutch Government to extend for another year until August 2016 a treaty agreement for Australian police, intelligence agents and Defence Ministry officers to operate in The Netherlands. Without Australian bodies left to identify or repatriate, and only the debris of the MH17 aircraft in partial reconstruction in a hangar at the Hilversum Army Barracks, Dutch and Malaysian sources are questioning what purpose is served by the treaty extension.
In July the Australian and the Netherlands governments signed a protocol for the extension of the Australian military operation on Dutch territory. The original pact of August 1, 2014, and its protocol also provide that while they in The Netherlands, even inside the Hilversum base, the Australians will carry arms, and employ other weapons, including explosives; the pact also protects them from Dutch law if they hurt locals while using their arms. “Are the Australians armed to guard the evidence in The Netherlands,” asks a Dutch source, “to prevent it from being disclosed publicly? Are the Australians arming themselves against the Dutch?” (more…)
Samvel Karapetyan (lead image) had a fortune last week of $4.6 billion. This, according to profiles in Forbes Russia, he made all by himself from Russian property development. The dollar number puts Karapetyan at No. 26 on the ladder of fortunes in Russia, where he lives and works; number 1 in Armenia, Karapetyan’s motherland and the location of his family’s alliance with the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and his ruling Republican Party.
Karapetyan’s importance and visibility have recently leaped because of a deal in which Inter RAO UES, the large Russian power utility, has sold its 100% stake in the Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA). The sale and purchase are reported to have taken place at a fraction of ENA’s asset value which Inter RAO reported on December 31, 2014, following a year in which ENA’s earnings tripled. Karapetyan appears to be the buyer, but through a spokesman at his Tashir Group in Moscow, he is refusing to say so. Inter RAO – the fifth most transparent power company in Russia in 2009, according to the company website — is also not confirming the sale. “We are not commenting,” the company spokesman said this week, “on the Armenia subject.”
The deal is exceptionally sensitive in Armenia, because ENA’s attempt between June and August to raise its electricity tariffs triggered countrywide protests. These have obliged Sargsyan and his ministers to back down, announcing last week that the 16% hike is being abandoned. At the same time, Gazprom has agreed to lower its gas supply price for Armenia’s power plants. Other financial sweeteners following from the Kremlin have included a $200 million military loan. According to Armenian commentaries and those of US and European political analysts, the ENA transaction, the protests, and the Russian reaction are the latest moves in the geopolitical contest between Russia, which controls most of the country’s energy sources through Gazprom, and the US, which is encouraging Armenia to reduce its dependence on Moscow, and taking over the big Vorotan hydroelectric combine through the World Bank and a New York-based company called Contour Global. What then is Inter RAO selling, and what is Karapetyan buying, if neither of them will say? (more…)
Something funny happened to the clown in the laundry. When he went in, the pockets of his pants were empty. When he came out, they were overflowing with money. “What kind of washing detergent do you use here?” he asked.
Not even under the circus big-top, with a troop of elephants trumpeting in the background, does this sound particularly funny. But if you know that the laundry the clown means is a political metaphor (the elephants, too), then the audience will fall out of their seats with laughter. That was what made Bim & Bom (lead, left) , the most famous clowns to perform in Russia between 1890 and 1940, too endearing for the authorities, even the Cheka and Stalin, to stop.
In today’s tale, the clowns are Sikkie and Sakkie (right) — Radoslaw Sikorski, sacked foreign minister of Poland, sacked Marshal of the Sejm (parliament Speaker); and Mikheil Saakashvili, indicted President of Georgia. The money laundries in their performances are better known as think-tanks — the Polish Institute of International Relations (PISM), the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the Saakashvili Presidential Library. In this show the bit parts and pratfalls are played by Marcin Zaborowski, Anne Applebaum, Edward Lucas, and several Greeks. (more…)
Smelting aluminium is a dirty business, so it’s every smelterman’s dream to recuperate on a tropical island far from the Big Smoke. Denis Island, for example, three balmy degrees south of the Equator in the Indian Ocean. And so, once upon a recent time, Oleg Deripaska (lead image), control shareholder of the Russian aluminium monopoly Rusal, downed tools, shut the door on his potline, and flew off. To Denis Island, where he was accompanied by his own valets, cooks, servers, and maids.
Or is this the fantasy of Rusal employees, fearful of wage payment delays and job losses looming in the management’s new plan, according to an insider at Rusal headquarters in Moscow? “The crisis will not miss a single industry,” Deripaska predicted early in the year. “’The worst is yet to come.” For whom? Rusal insiders at Moscow headquarters ask. (more…)
Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have on file three pieces of evidence showing both of them knew what had caused the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17, and of the deaths of all 298 souls on board. They knew it little more than two hours after the crash had occurred in eastern Ukraine. They also knew each other knew it, because they discussed what had happened in a telephone call which took place before 19:45 Moscow time, 11:45 Washington time, on Thursday, July 17. MH17 was downed that day at 16:20 Ukraine time, 17:20 Moscow time, 09:20 Washington time.
The first piece of evidence is the agenda paper for the telephone call. This had been negotiated and formalized by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Embassy in Washington, the State Department and the White House before July 17. The second piece of evidence is the tape of the Putin-Obama conversation, as recorded by the Kremlin. The third piece of evidence is the tape of the Obama-Putin conversation, as recorded by the White House.
This evidence establishes that Putin believed, and Obama believed Putin would announce, not that a ground-to-air missile had brought MH17 down, but that other weapons had done so. The story that a Russian-made Buk missile had caused the disaster began after Obama had spoken to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at about 19:00 Kiev time, 20:00 Moscow time, 12 noon Washington time.
Take away that story, because Obama knew it to be false when he had spoken earlier to Putin, and what do you have? A war crime by two governments. How to prove innocence and guilt? The tapes at the Kremlin and the White House. (more…)
Political responsibility and legal liability, like fish rot, start at the head. President Barack Obama’s and President Vladimir Putin’s heads, to be exact.
For evidence of the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, and of the 298 people on board, what the two presidents knew from the start — before the start, in fact – was revealed in a telephone conversation the two of them held three hours after the crash. Today, fourteen months later, it is now certain what they didn’t know, and didn’t discuss, because it didn’t happen. One of those things was an explosion of a Buk ground-to-air missile on the port (left) side of the aircraft. Why that didn’t happen has now been revealed in the only direct physical evidence admissible so far in international courts of law. This is the post-mortem evidence of the 296 individuals, and 700 body parts recovered from the aircraft.
The coroners of the UK and Australia say they will not test this evidence for the foreseeable future; by a loophole in the coronial law they may refuse to consider it at all. In Germany and The Netherlands, lawyers say there is no independent coronial court for investigation of cause of death . German state police and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) are not independent of their governments; nor of the Ukrainian Government’s right as a JIT member to veto what is investigated, what is disclosed, who to convict.
The only courts in which it will be possible to consider this evidence are the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The first is now the venue of a case brought by the daughter of Wilhelm Theodore Grootscholten, 55, a Dutch victim of the MH17 crash. The second is to decide who is responsible for the death of Fatima Dyczynski, 25, also Dutch. The defendants charged with culpability in the loss of their lives are the Government of Ukraine; Dutch officials at the time of the crash, Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten and Fred Teeven, the State Secretary for Security and Justice; the International Civil Aviation Organization; and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Euro Control). (more…)
The Dutch Government has decided to launch a missile attack on Moscow in October. By suppressing all evidence obtained from the bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17, officials of the Dutch Safety Board and associated Dutch military officers, police and prosecutors are preparing to release a report on the crash with a gaping hole in its veracity.
At the same time, and apparently unknown in The Netherlands, an Australian coroners’ report on the identification and forensic testing of the bodies carried out in The Netherlands reveals post-mortem evidence to show that in their public statements the Dutch government officials have been lying about metal evidence they claim to have found. This evidence has not only been buried with the passengers’ remains. It has been buried by the Dutch Government and by coroners in the UK and Australia, who are now legally required to investigate independently what caused the deaths of citizens in their jurisdiction. All are withholding the CT scans, X-rays, autopsy and other post-mortem results, including metallurgical assays, the documentation of which accompanied the coffins of the aircraft’s victims from The Netherlands to their homelands. (more…)
Vladimir Yakunin, the recently replaced boss of Russian Railways, says President Vladimir Putin saved his bacon when he was fired the first time in June 2013, and then a second time a year ago. But last month, Yakunin has been telling his friends, it was Putin who made a pig’s breakfast of himself. On August 18, the day after Yakunin disclosed what he claims was his resignation, Putin said the move had been Yakunin’s choice, adding: “I have yet to speak to him about it.”
For Yakunin to appear to have been driven out of Putin’s “inner circle” – the US Treasury uses that term; the White House prefers “cronies” – has triggered speculation in the Anglo-American media that the US campaign against the Kremlin has begun to produce the first signs of regime crack-up.
Yakunin is encouraging the speculation himself by telling his friends that his ouster is political, maybe ideological, but nothing to do with the state of Russian Railways (RZhD) or the capacity of the state budget to cover its rising costs and growing losses. Putin won’t listen to him any longer, Yakunin is confiding. The President is isolated more than ever before, he adds. For the usually loyal Yakunin to be saying this, even if quietly and to non-Russians, can only mean that reality is getting away from one of them. Some of Yakunin’s foreign friends like to think it’s Putin. The Russians think it’s Yakunin himself. “He’s lost his usefulness to the boss,” says one. “Age and the arrogance of power have overtaken his sense. He hasn’t been defeated by Putin’s enemies. He’s defeated himself.” (more…)
Cyprus Government investigators have opened an inquiry into ex-Senator Leonid Lebedev (lead image) for transfers into a hidden Cyprus trust of $150 million in cash allegedly stolen from the regional Russian electricity company TGK-2 and a related company, TKS. Investigations by Russian prosecutors and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), reported to court hearings in Yaroslavl, have counted almost $240 million Lebedev has been accused of stealing through a chain of companies associated with his Sintez group, ending up in Cyprus. A Russian Government request for the Cypriot authorities to open Lebedev company registers and tax filings has been confirmed as triggering criminal checks on the island.
The Cyprus authorities are also checking how Lebedev managed to obtain a Cyprus passport in 2011; and the source of the funds he pledged to place in Cyprus to meet the €5 million requirement for buying citizenship. That was a year before Lebedev swore in the Limassol District Court that he was a Russian citizen, without assets in Cyprus, and “impossibil[ity] to travel to Cyprus”. His testimony was in response to a lawsuit by Commerzbank of Germany charging Lebedev with $240 million in loan fraud. At the time, Lebedev was a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), according to Cyprus and European Union regulations, and subject therefore to much tougher official checks.
Lebedev also hid his Cyprus nationality from the Federation Council, where he was the senator for the Chuvash Republic between 2002 and April of this year. For more on his dismissal, read this. (more…)
In Kiev on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko complained that he isn’t getting cash from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fast enough. Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, told him to stick to the Fund conditions, but she also promised to go soft on whether the IMF will stop the money if Ukraine decides not to repay the $3 billion bond owed for repayment to Russia in December. (more…)
Officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are in flight from evidence of negligence, incompetence, and corruption in their management of billions of dollars in loans for Ukraine.
Nikolai Gueorguiev, head of the Ukraine team at IMF headquarters in Washington, DC, and Jerome Vacher, the IMF representative in Kiev, refuse to respond to questions on their role in the offshore diversion of IMF loan money through Privatbank and Credit Dnepr Bank, banks owned by Ukrainian oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Victor Pinchuk. The Fund’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde (lead image, front) and her spokesman, Gerry Rice (rear), are covering up evidence of conflicts of interest and multiple violations of the IMF Staff Code of Conduct which have been occurring in the Ukraine loan programme. Simonetta Nardin, head of the Fund’s media relations, refuses to explain her apparent violations of the Code, or respond to evidence that she fabricated elements of her career resume.
On Tuesday a spokesman at the US Department of Justice in Washington confirmed that an investigation is under way of the role played by US clearing banks in the movement of IMF funds through the Privatbank group and companies connected with Kolomoisky. Speaking for the Asset Forefeiture and Money Laundering Section, Peter Carr declined to give more details. (more…)
Listeners to US Government radio and readers of the London papers are being told that Kaliningrad is a Russian dagger pointed at the soft underbelly of the NATO alliance in central Europe. According to NATO sources, the dagger must be reversed so that it threatens the Kremlin instead.
Officials in the German Chancellery in Berlin and in the Polish government in Warsaw have begun asking their intelligence chiefs to prepare memoranda on how vulnerable the Russian outpost, formerly Königsberg in German East Prussia, is to a campaign of economic pressure and political subversion. Does this make Kaliningrad a potential flashpoint on the eastern war front, the next Crimea? (more…)
The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.
It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.
Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.
Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points, want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.
“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification, his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”
The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island, was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.
It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.
Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”. The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.
But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.
Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits, LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”
Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”. “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added, diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February. Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace Morawiecki next year.
The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45; and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption, and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .
“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June, “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”
“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”
The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.
The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.
Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha by the Black Sea in Abkhazia. Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.
Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel. As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him. “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”
In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 BlueLine (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.
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.
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.