ANDREI MELNICHENKO AND ALEXANDER MASHKEVICH – ROUND-2 DECIDED IN WASHINGTON

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Andrei Melnichenko’s Eurochem group, one of Russia’s largest producers of fertilizers, has responded to a New York lawsuit this month from Alexander Mashkevich’s International Mineral Resources (IMR). Mashkevich is accusing Melnichenko of paying American agents to hack into his company computers, steal sensitive information, and promote litigation and propaganda damaging to Mashkevich and his companies’ reputations. Melnichenko says he has been vindicated.

In a press release issued in Moscow yesterday, Eurochem announced it has won “favourable decisions” from a US federal district court in Washington, DC, whose rulings followed a week after the IMR filed its accusations in the New York Supreme Court. Eurochem, its release says, “has obtained favorable judicial decisions in its legal dispute with a contractor retained for the construction of the cage shaft at the Group’s potash mining project in Russia’s Gremyachinskoe deposit. On November 17-18, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a series of decisions rejecting all allegations that the consulting expert hired by EuroChem-VolgaKaliy had engaged in unlawful information-gathering activity.” The contractor referred to in the judgement is Shaft Sinkers, an associated company of IMR under Mashkevich’s control.

The opening of the Washington court files, which had remained sealed or unreported for more than a year, also exposes a world of Washington lobbying and propaganda targeted at the Kazakhstan Government and President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
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THE CLASSIC RULES FOR COMBATTING TURKISH AGGRESSION

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By John Helmer, Moscow

A generation ago, a Greek prime minister, whom the Soviet Politburo in Moscow underestimated, defeated a Turkish attack on Greek territory. That was Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou; the victory was the battle of the Aegean of March 26, 1987. Before that, no Russian had defeated a Turkish attack for more than a hundred years. Since 1991 Russians say Turkey has been “not merely a close neighbour, but a friendly state.”
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SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS – ALEXANDER MASHKEVICH ASKS NEW YORK JURY TO FIND ANDREI MELNICHENKO GUILTY OF BAD REPUTE, HACKING AND MEDIA MANIPULATION

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Proof that oligarchs have more money than sense isn’t hard to come by. For a man with no business reputation left to lose in London to ask a jury in New York to judge his business rival to be a scoundrel is a proof that Alexander Mashkevich (lead image, with glasses), control shareholder of International Mineral Resources, is determined to test against Andrei Melnichenko (lead image, without glasses), owner of the Eurochem fertilizer group.

International Mineral Resources (IMR), a Dutch company owned by Mashkevich and his two partners, Patokh Chodiev and Alijan Ibragimov, has been an offshoot of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC). When ENRC was at the peak of its London Stock Exchange value, Mashkevich was worth over $3 billion. He’s down to less than $2 billion now, according to Forbes which doesn’t count liabilities. Melnichenko, whose debts are also not counted by Forbes, is reported to be worth over $8 billion. By the arithmetical rule, having four times more money than Mashkevich, Melnichenko should have one-quarter the common sense. Or is it the other way round?
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OTKRITIE BANK AND THE TRUST BANK FRAUD — HOW TO TOAST MARSHALLOWS WITHOUT BURNING ANYTHING

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Otkritie Bank has received Rb157 billion from the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) and the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) to rescue Trust Bank from bankruptcy. It is the second largest bailout in Russian bank history for what may be the longest lasting and most expensive bank fraud by its shareholders. But thus far the CBR, DIA and Otkritie have pursued in Moscow only a fraction of the money that has been lost, while the money trail leads to Cyprus, and to offshore entities operated from Cyprus. “Inexplicably”, observes an international bank regulator specializing in money laundering by Russian banks, “they won’t do the obvious — pursue the perpetrators of the Trust Bank fraud offshore where all the money went.”
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OLEG DERIPASKA LOSES TO MORGAN STANLEY IN NEW YORK COURT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

A federal US judge and jury have dismissed a billion-dollar claim by Oleg Deripaska’s companies against investment bank Morgan Stanley after three years of litigation and two weeks of trial in a Manhattan courtroom. The jury verdict was announced on November 13.

The case is the first in which Deripaska, chief executive and control shareholder of Rusal, Russian Machines and Basic Element, and Gulzhan Moldazhanova, his closest aide for more than a decade, have testified under cross-examination in a US court. Commencing with an initial filing against several international banks on August 3, 2012, the case has continued for three years and three months. Before the trial opened on November 2, the presiding judge McMahon had dismissed six other banks listed as defendants in Deripaska’s claim, and rejected all but one of the charges against Morgan Stanley.
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THE BARBARIANS ARE AT THE GATE OF CIVILIZATION, BUT WHICH EMPIRE IS FALLING?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The university that taught generations of American leaders that their manifest destiny is to make war on uncivilized people around the world is having a bad time of it, now that the US has lost the last four straight; and the losers are streaming in for their take of the manifest. Streaming into Europe, that is, but not into Harvard University, nor the state of Massachusetts, nor the United States.

It was comical when Timothy Colton, Harvard’s professor of Russian studies, turned out, a year ago, to be paid by a branch of the Pentagon to spy on the body movements of President Vladimir Putin. It was laughable last week when the Harvard Centre of European Studies, financed by the Seagram businesses, engaged Radoslaw Sikorski, the ousted Polish foreign minister, to teach. “The pursuit of ‘Veritas,’ as in Harvard’s motto, is always exciting,” the university quoted Sikorski as saying.

But now comes Professor Niall Ferguson, on Rupert Murdoch’s tab, to declaim that the reason for the terrorism which has stormed the boulevards and entertainments of Paris is that the French, and the European Union (EU), deserve it because they have let their guard down, inviting the barbarians in by “complacency”, “secularism”, and “decadence”. Like the Romans deserved the Visigoths and the Vandals, according to this Harvard version of the history of civilization, the Europeans deserve “the uncannily similar processes destroying the European Union today.”
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CALIFORNIA HIDEAWAY — WHAT IS HAPPENING TO POWERFUL RUSSIANS WITH US FORTUNES – MIKHAIL LESIN, LEONID LEBEDEV, MIKHAIL ABYZOV

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The three Russians with the largest fortunes in California are Mikhail Lesin, Leonid Lebedev, and Mikhail Abyzov. Lesin, a former government minister and Kremlin advisor on mass media, was found dead in a Washington, DC, hotel room on November 6; his death is being investigated by the homicide squad of the local police. Lebedev, a former senator, was forced to resign his Federation Council seat in April of this year; he announced the sale of his last Russian oilfield asset this month, and he is now on the run from Russian fraud charges. Abyzov is alive and well; he is the Minister of Open Government in the current Russian cabinet.
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BETWEEN THE COW AND THE PALM-TREE — RUSSIA’S NEW CHEESE MARKET HAS TROUBLE GROWING AS FAST AS CONSUMERS WANT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

For Russians to eat as much cheese as they want, there aren’t enough cows in Russia, and too many palm trees in Malaysia. The impact of year-old sanctions in cutting off the flow of imported cheese from Russia’s suppliers in Europe is to stimulate the production of domestic cheese. But at the same time Russian cheesemakers face a lack of raw milk supplies. To feed the market, palm oil is being used instead for products the Russian dairy industry is calling fake. If the Russian milk supply is to match rising demand, then Russian farmers and traders say the government must subsidize the cost of domestic milk production and deter palm-oil substitution.

“Adulteration by palm oil and bad politics behind sanctions have produced an impossible position for the dairy producers,” says an independent dairy farmer near Moscow. “Today we cannot produce enough affordable cheese for the masses! In provincial supermarkets and shops pseudo-cheese is being sold at Rb500 to Rb600 a kilo. This is impossible when the average supermarket insists on its mark-up of 100%. For one kilo of genuine cheese you need 10 to 11 litres of milk. That means a minimum cost for one kilo of cheese of Rb300 – and that’s just the cost of the milk.”
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OLEG DERIPASKA PLAYS SAMSON IN NEW YORK COURT, SUES DELILAH FOR HAIRCUT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Bible is clear on what horny musclemen like Samson should beware. If they want to go bed with Delilah types, they may wake up without their hair on.

Oleg Deripaska, control shareholder of the Russian aluminium monopoly Rusal and of Russian Machines, a holding of automobile and automotive component manufacturers, is suing Morgan Stanley, the US investment bank, for cheating him of billions of dollars of profit in order to make a quick profit itself of “tens of millions of dollars”. The claims, kept sealed by a New York federal court judge until recently, reveal inside dealing between Deripaska and Canadian businessman Frank Stronach, which Canadian investment institutions and the Canadian press had tried to oppose when their deal was first made in 2007.

Deripaska is now accusing Morgan Stanley of insider dealing in a jury trial under way this month. The trial has required Deripaska and his long-time money manager, Gulzhan Moldazhanova, to face cross-examination in a US court for the first time. Deripaska testified by videolink yesterday; Moldazhanova was on the stand on Monday and Tuesday.
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THE TONGUE THAT RAN AWAY WITH ITSELF — AUSTRALIAN AND DUTCH OFFICIALS LOSE CONTROL OF MH17 INFOWAR

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Australian and Dutch police investigating the evidence of the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 have gone public in disagreement with their superiors and with their governments’ political leaders. The split has opened between forensic investigators and police on the one hand, who say they aren’t convinced what weapon caused the crash, or who fired it; and politicians on the other hand, who blame the Kremlin.
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RADOSLAW SIKORSKI ON TAPE – PLOT TO IMPOSE RUSSIAN COAL BAN FOR OLIGARCH’S PROFIT, CONFISCATE AND RESELL GAZPROM GAS TOO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, right) plotted with the owner of Polish coalmines and electricity plants to use European Union sanctions against Russia to stop imports of rival, low-cost Russian coal in the Polish market. A clandestine tape-recording of a conversation between Sikorski, who was Poland’s foreign minister at the time, and Jan Kulczyk (lead image, left), one of Poland’s wealthiest businessmen, appeared in Warsaw this week. It reveals the first direct evidence that Sikorski, one of the most outspoken advocates of economic war against Russia, was engaged in war profiteering for himself and his friends.
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CHRYSTIA FREELAND DEMOTED IN NEW CANADIAN CABINET – SHE AND THE UKRAINE LOBBY HIT BY SIKLEBAUM DISEASE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Noone holds Chrystia Freeland in higher esteem than she does. When she was the Financial Times correspondent in Moscow, she would react to correction or criticism by screaming down the telephone receiver. That’s when, among her fellow reporters, she picked up the Hysteria Freeland handle. That also is the assessment, according to two people familiar with the matter, of Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, when he decided to drop Freeland from each of the cabinet portfolios she had proposed for herself, naming her instead Minister of International Trade.

Few of Freeland’s predecessors in that portfolio, first created in 1983, have lasted more than two years in the job; none has gone on to higher office or political prominence. To Canadian political analysts this is the prime minister’s intention for Freeland. “The point of no return”, cracks an Ottawa veteran. “Trudeau is making sure Freeland can’t challenge him or anyone else for the top job.” In Brussels, a central European diplomat adds: “Freeland is going down the Russophobic road the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and his American wife, Anne Applebaum, have taken. That’s to say, down – and out. Is Russophobia out now in Canada?”
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SOVIET REALIST PAINTING MAKES INTERNATIONAL AUCTION DEBUT – ALEKSANDR DEINEKA SETS FULL-FRONTAL RECORD, AS FOREIGNERS SELL OUT, RUSSIANS TAKE HOME

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By John Helmer, Moscow

For the first time in the international art auction market, paintings of the Soviet period between 1930 and 1990 have been auctioned in London, setting market benchmarks for several of the styles and genres included in the show, and a multi-million pound record for Aleksandr Deineka, a Moscow-based artist who died in 1969. According to William MacDougall, director of the eponymous auction house with offices in London, Moscow, Paris and Kiev, “the market [demand] for Soviet Art is rising, and it was a very successful sale.”

“Nothing short of a miracle”, commented James Butterwick, a London art dealer and specialist on Russian art. “Hats off to MacDougall’s for having the foresight and bravery to…sell Soviet Realist art. There are regular auctions in Moscow, though admittedly their quality is not as good, and they have never had such good results.”

“MacDougall’s could be on to something,” reported Simon Hewitt, international editor of Russian Art + Culture. “Until now, mainstream Soviet painting – broadly equating to Socialist Realism, though extending into the ‘Soviet Impressionism’ of the 1950s and ‘Severe Style’ of the 1960s – has looked a poor relation when sandwiched in auction catalogues between the Avant-Garde and the Non-Conformists. Parading it centre-stage grants it fresh coherence and respectability, underlining its nostalgic motherland appeal to Russians who cannot afford an Ayvazovsky or a Shishkin… Things needed shaking up. MacDougall’s have delivered.”
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AFTER MERKEL FINISHES DESTROYING GERMANY, CAMERON EUROPE, AND AFTER OBAMA LOSES HIS WAR AGAINST THE KREMLIN, PUTIN WILL BE THE LAST MAN FLYING — THAT’S RUSSIA WITHOUT THE OLIGARCHS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Since the US started the regime dominoes falling in Kiev in February 2014, the Polish regime has already toppled, and the French one is doomed – President Francois Hollande will be defeated by every one of the candidates now running to succeed him, including Marine Le Pen of the National Front. The British Prime Minister David Cameron can postpone his day of reckoning, but on the margins of Europe, not inside. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has less time, fewer supporters. When Merkel topples, she will take the European Union (EU) into the shambles with her.

Russia, under constant attack by the US, Germany, France and Britain in the war to overthrow President Vladimir Putin, is now the only European country to show more, not less voter support for the incumbent leadership. It is also the only one with the capability to repel unwanted migration; convert its economy to domestically sustainable growth; and defeat its foreign enemies by force. The war to defend Europe from Russia is destroying Europe, fast.
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AFTERSHOCK OF NORD STREAM EXPLOSIONS RUMBLES WARSAW — POLISH POLITICIANS GO “NUTTERS”

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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?”

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THE BORNHOLM BLOW-UP REPEATS THE BORNHOLM BASH — POLAND ATTACKS GERMANY AND BLAMES RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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LEMONS, MIMOSAS, AND STALIN’S SHOVEL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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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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