AMERICAN TRICKS, RUSSIAN TREATS – HOW THE MARKET FOR CONFECTIONERY IS RESISTING THE WAR

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By John Helmer, Moscow

If it wasn’t for a Russian, Americans wouldn’t be able to lick large lollipops.

Samuel Born – it isn’t known what his original Russian name was – emigrated to the US at the end of the 19th century. There he invented an apparatus he called the Born Sucker Machine. Its function was to insert sticks into hard lollies so they could be sucked slowly. This was a revolution in the sweets business. It allowed sugar confectioners to manufacture — and charge premiums for — much larger sucking sweets than had been known for two thousand years. Until the Born Sucker, a sweet had to be small enough to fit into the mouth at one go. Noone, from the Pharaonic Egyptians to the Obamic Americans, likes sticky fingers. *

But now the US is at war with Russia, bent on overthrowing President Vladimir Putin, and in the meantime cutting Russia off from the flow of bank capital, oil and gas technology, and imported lollipops too – because Putin and his friends depend on them. There has already been one confectionery casualty of this war – exports by the Roshen company, owned by the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, have been banned in Russia, their principal trade destination, and the Russian factory of the company arrested in Lipetsk.
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THE SELLING OF TRUST — HOW RUSSIA’S LONGEST AND LARGEST BANK FRAUD HAS BEEN COVERED UP AS IT PASSED FROM ONE OWNER TO ANOTHER, STARTING WITH MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY AND ENDING WITH RUBEN AGANBEGYAN, ALEXANDER MAMUT, ET AL.

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Investigations into the collapse of National Bank Trust, one of the largest Moscow banks to be rescued by the Central Bank of Russia and the Deposit Insurance Agency, have targeted a Cyprus-based management group as the operational headquarters of a scheme which, according to current calculations, may have diverted more than $3 billion in bank funds over a decade between 2004 and 2014.

If and when the grand total of losses is toted up, this may beat the Bank of Moscow as the largest Russian bank fraud in history. But there may never be a toting-up — not by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) which has provided Rb129 billion in bailout financing, nor by the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA), the state organ in charge of supervising the bailout. Otkritie, the top-5 Russian bank selected by the government to take over Trust and keep it running, has yet to agree with the government on the results of the investigations and attempts at recovery of the funds from offshore.

According to a well-informed Russian state banker, Trust Bank had a high-level krysha, and he’s still at work to assure that the state refinancing of the losses, and the takeover by Otkritie, continue without embarrassment to the Central Bank, without risk for the stakeholders, and without cost for the perpetrators and beneficiaries. With shareholders as well-known as Mikhail Khodorkovsky who started by calling the bank Menatep St. Petersburg; then transferred it to Ilya Yurov, who renamed it Trust; and the current shareholders who have taken over — Ruben Aganbegyan, Vadim Belyaev, Alexander Nessis, Vagit Alekperov, and Alexander Mamut — the duration of the protective cover over the bank’s offshore operations also makes a record by Russian standards.
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OLEG DERIPASKA AND IVAN GLASENBERG CAN’T GET IT UP, THE ALUMINIUM MARGIN, THAT IS – BUT IS THE LOVE AFFAIR OVER?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The commodity supercycle made an offshore fortune for Oleg Deripaska, control shareholder of United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly, and for Glencore, the Swiss combine which has financed and managed Rusal’s trade. But the cycle is now in reverse, as the markets accept that China’s economic performance will now trigger short-term booms and busts, keeping the price of aluminium low for the foreseeable future. Too low for the cost advantages to Rusal of the rouble crash to produce optimism for the company’s profitability as a global aluminium exporter.

In September Deripaska declared his first profit dividend in seven years. As an 8.75% stakeholder, Glencore’s share of the $250 million payout will be about $22 million. But Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg’s parallel announcement of cuts to Glencore’s trade loans to its clients means that he is quietly asking Deripaska to pay more cash up front, both for trading commissions and interest on trade advances. How much is a secret Deripaska and Glasenberg aim to keep from the minority Russian shareholders in Rusal; and from the Russian government, which is pushing Rusal to refocus its business on the domestic trade in aluminium, for which Glencore is no longer necessary.
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OLD MASTERS — YURY TRUTNEV OFFERS RUSSIAN ART COLLECTORS SAFE HARBOUR IN VLADIVOSTOK

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Yury Trutnev, the Kremlin’s special representative for the Russian Fareast, has come up with a scheme, starting this month, for storing the world’s most valuable art works in Vladivostok, one of the world’s smallest art markets, with the personal backing of President Vladimir Putin; and on the advice of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the art-collecting oligarch exiled to Switzerland and Monaco, who is charging Yves Bouvier, the French operator of comparable art storage schemes in Europe, with multimillion dollar art fraud.

This tale was published in Mediapart, a French internet publication, on October 11. It was translated into Russian and published two days later. Not a shred of evidence has since been found to substantiate it. Desperation measures then, but for whose benefit?
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IS THERE A WAR CRIME IN WHAT LORD HEH-HEH, TJIBBE JOUSTRA OF THE DUTCH SAFETY BOARD, IS BROADCASTING?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Tjibbe Joustra (lead image, right), chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, wants it to be very clear that Russia is criminally responsible for the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014; that a Russian-supplied ground-to-air missile, fired on Russian orders from territory under Russian control, exploded lethally to break up the MH17 aircraft in the air, killing everyone on board; and that Russian objections to these conclusions are no more than cover-up and dissimulation for the guilty.

Joustra also wants to make sure that no direct evidence for what he says can be tested, not in the report which his agency issued last week; nor in the three Dutch government organs which prepared and analysed the evidence of the victims’ bodies, the aircraft remains, and the missile parts on contract to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) – the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research ( TNO), and the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). So Joustra began broadcasting his version of what he says happened before the release of the DSB report. He then continued in an anteroom of the Gilze-Rijen airbase, where the DSB report was presented to the press; in a Dutch television studio; and on the pages of the Dutch newspapers.

But when he and his spokesman were asked today for the evidence for what Joustra has been broadcasting, they insisted that if the evidence isn’t to be found in the DSB report, Joustra’s evidence cannot be released. So, if the evidence for Joustra’s claims cannot be found in the NLR, TMO and NFI reports either, what exactly is Joustra doing – is he telling the truth? Is he broadcasting propaganda? Is he lying? Is he covering up for a crime?
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DUTCH REPORTS ON MH17 HAVE MISTAKEN BUK MISSILE MODEL, WARHEAD TYPE — THE FOOTNOTE WHICH PUTS THE BOOT TO BUK

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) conclusion on the missile detonation which caused the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 is based on a report of the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), based in Amsterdam. The 66-page NLR report can be found as an appendix to the main DSB report. Combined in their release this week, the two Dutch organizations and the two Dutch reports claim that a Russian-made Buk missile of the 9M38 model series, armed with warhead type 9N314M, was fired at MH17, exploding to the left of the aircraft at about two metres from the cockpit. The blast and shrapnel spray from this detonation, the two Dutch reports claim, caused the break-up of the aircraft in the air, and the deaths of all on board.

From the evening of the crash day, July 17, 2014, western government officials and media reporters have blamed Russia for manufacturing the missile, ordering it fired, and causing the crash. They are now citing the Dutch reports as proof of the initial assignment of blame. This is despite the DSB’s reluctance to do so in its report; and despite the refusal to date of Australian and Dutch police, coronial investigators and pathologists to release the detailed autopsy evidence they have gathered of the shrapnel which struck the aircraft and the bodies of those on board. According to the DSB report, shrapnel killed the crew in the cockpit, and three pieces of shrapnel, characteristic of warhead type 9N314M , were found in the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot. No crew member or passenger in the aircraft, outside the cockpit, was struck by this shrapnel, according to the DSB.

On these three pieces of metal hangs the case for a Buk missile detonation as the cause of crash; the cause of death; and Russian culpability for the shoot-down. But a search through the DSB records, and through the technical reports of shrapnel impact and blast simulation on which the DSB has based its conclusions, together with interviews with spokesmen for the Dutch investigations, finds that the only evidence for the source of the three metal fragments turns out to be a classified military secret of the Dutch Ministry of Defence.
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AUTOPSY OF THE MH17 CRASH — DUTCH SAFETY BOARD REVEALS 3 POSSIBLE PIECES OF BUK SHRAPNEL IN THE BODIES OF THE COCKPIT CREW, AND CHEMICAL EVIDENCE IT CANNOT SUBSTANTIATE — AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE ISSUE PUBLIC REJECTION OF AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ALLEGATIONS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) reported yesterday that its evidence for concluding that a single ground-to-air Buk missile caused the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was an explosive blast of sound on the cockpit voice recorder lasting 2.3 milliseconds; a spray pattern of damage to the cockpit area of the fuselage; three distinctively shaped metal fragments (lead image) found in the bodies of the cockpit crew; a chemical analysis of explosive residues missing 2 out of 3 warhead explosives; and a match of paint samples collected up to 4 months apart.

The fine arithmetic of this evidence has convinced the Dutch to pinpoint the source as a Buk missile type 9M38, with a warhead model 9N314M. The larger arithmetic of the area from which the DSB has calculated the missile was fired – 50 square kilometres of crash area; 320 square kilometres of launch area – has proved to be inconclusive for a judgement of who fired the missile, and thus who is responsible for the crash and for the deaths of the 298 crew and passengers on board. That said, aviation lawyers close to the MH17 case now believe there is no evidence of a crime – a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a crime of terrorism — that would meet international prosecution standards. For what lawyers have done, or not done, to examine the case for evidence of a crime, or evidence of civil negligence, read this.

Just how circumstantial and inconclusive the newly reported Dutch results turn out to be was revealed two days before the release of the Dutch report, when the Australian Federal Police (AFP) released unusual criticism of Australian Government officials. According to the AFP, public Australian Government interpretations of the crash evidence and assignments of blame cannot be supported by the evidence the AFP’s officers had collected themselves at the crash scene in Ukraine, in the autopsy process in The Netherlands, and in the subsequent forensic testing of what was found in the bodies of the MH17 victims.
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ILYA YUROV — A RUSSIAN BANKER YOU CAN REALLY TRUST, AND BUST – FRAUD SQUAD PURSUES OFFSHORE MASTERMIND AND ACCOMPLICES

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Between buying his bank from Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2004 and losing it to the Central Bank of Russia at the end of December, 2014, Ilya Yurov, chairman of National Bank (NB) Trust, made a fortune. How much of it he has kept for himself, at the expense of his depositors, shareholders and bondholders, isn’t clear yet. The Central Bank and Moscow prosecutors currently charge that $256 million was stolen from Trust over the past three years through fraudulent loans offshore, the money moved in and out of Cyprus, Switzerland, and Austria, back to Russia, and out again. The amount missing from the bank, according to investigators who have yet to finish the forensic accounting for a much longer period of time, may be turn out to be between $2 billion and $3 billion.
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BURYING THE DOCTRINE OF ONE MORE HELICOPTER – US STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS DYING, ALONG WITH ITS AUTHORS, JIMMY CARTER AND ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI; VLADIMIR PUTIN, BASHAR AL-ASSAD GET TO DANCE ON THEIR GRAVES, DAVID BEN-GURION TOO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

“I wish I had sent one more helicopter to get the hostages,” former US president Jimmy Carter said at one of his farewell appearances in Atlanta recently, “and we would’ve rescued them, and I would’ve been re-elected.”

Compared to his predecessors and successors Carter was intellectually superior. He also didn’t suffer from the corruption of Bill Clinton, the untruthfulness of Barack Obama. But unlike all of them, Carter had an inferiority complex. It started with his career mentor, the Polish Jewish admiral Hyman Rickover, and ended with his national security advisor, the Polish Catholic Zbigniew Brzezinski. Their combination has produced the eventual destruction of the US positions in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and these days, Syria.

The other side to Carter’s complex is Carter’s and Brzezinski’s wishful thinking. Not their misjudgements have brought these defeats about, they say aloud. Why, they weren’t defeats at all, but victorious strategies missing just one increment of the force multiple, and costing the US little blood, affordable treasure. One more gunship in the sky, and their triumph would have been recognized for what it was. That’s to say, what they in their dodders think it was.
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WHAT AMBULANCE-CHASING LAWYERS REVEAL ABOUT THE MH17 SHOOT-DOWN – THERE IS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION IN ANY NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL COURT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

A fight over fees by Australian lawyers claiming to launch a compensation claim on behalf of one of the victims of the MH17 shoot-down revealed last week in an Australian state court that the top officials of the Australian Government are unable to confirm evidence of what crime was committed, or who committed it when the aircraft was destroyed, and its 298 crew and passengers, including 38 Australians and 196 Dutch, killed on July 17, 2014.

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, a lawyer who has claimed to be representing Dutch kin in pursuing criminal and civil court suits on behalf of the victims, has declared: “Our government must clearly express that it is an illusion to believe that any study ever could lead to prosecution of the individual offenders.”

A secret file by the Australian Attorney-General to the Prime Minister, setting out the admissibility of evidence for prosecuting the crime, has recommended against a public declaration by the Government of what happened, and who is responsible. The disclosure of the file, though not of the secret evidence or of the internal Australian Government debate over its contents, comes just days before the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) is due to issue its final report on the causes of the crash.
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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

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RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

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THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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KILLING IS CHEAPER — THE US ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WEAPONIZES TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, WHATSAPP, TELEGRAM

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.

The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory.  The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image).   McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.

Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

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MARIA YUDINA OUT OF THE DARK – THE RUSSIAN CLASSICAL PIANIST PLAYS AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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