THE WEASEL HISTORY OF SECRET INTELLIGENCE IN WARTIME

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Sir Max Hastings, author of a new book claiming to be the first to compare the secret intelligence performances of the British, Americans, Germans, Japanese and Russians in World War II, has posted a picture of himself on the dust-jacket as a weasel.

“The best single volume written on the subject” is the blurb on the dust-jacket as the opinion of the Sunday Times, whose proprietor Rupert Murdoch, is also Hastings’s paymaster as owner of the book’s publisher, William Collins. Everything about the history of Russian spying offends Hastings almost as much as everything Russian offends Murdoch. This isn’t so much a history as it’s a textbook in info-warfare – and the antithesis of the conclusion Hastings suggests we should all come to. This is that in war force wins, not words – and that secret intelligence and propaganda are largely a waste of money and lives. “Allied intelligence contributed almost nothing to winning the war, ”Hastings quotes an American friend and expert, demurring that “this seems too extreme a verdict”, while adding his own: “official secrecy does more to protect intelligence agencies from domestic accountability for their own follies.” The exception proving both rules, according to Hastings, is the record of British intelligence compared to German, and to Russian.

Deception, that’s another story – unless The Secret War is an example of how Hastings has fooled himself. On this score, Hastings’s 612 pages are an unprecedented achievement in decoding his own text, and warning his readers off it. Murdoch and his media have been duped by Hastings out of the truth, though not out of the profit.
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FOR VALENTINE’S AND WOMEN’S DAY, RUSSIAN ROSE BUYERS CAN’T GO DUTCH

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The conflict between Romeo’s Montagues and Juliet’s Capulets went deeper than the scent or the name of flowers, and we know it ended badly for the two of them. That’s to say with white lilies, not roses.

In the Russian market for cut flowers – until recently, the fastest growing in Europe — the war has cut imports by a third in value last year, compared to 2014. The deepest cut of all for exporters was suffered by The Netherlands, whose government has been outspoken in support of European Union sanctions; NATO military movements towards the Russian frontier; and support of the Kiev regime in the investigation of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 disaster.

But wait! is that a Montague and a Capulet bloom, an Italian rose, which has appeared on the Russian market in recent months? Yes, in the December quarter of 2015 the Italians jumped to fourth place in the table of top-5 exporters of cut flowers to Russia with shipments of 66 tonnes, at a value totalling $563,200. They replaced the Dutch. In the comparable quarter of 2014, The Netherlands had ranked number-4 with 560 tonnes worth $4.8 million; at the same time Italy delivered almost no flowers at all to Russia. The explanation, according to Moscow market sources, is that the Italian growers have found a way to avoid the Dutch flower auctions, and ship directly to Moscow.

The aggregate numbers speak for themselves with another meaning. In 2015 the total value of Russian imports of flowers from the top-5 sources came to $215 million. That was a 31% reduction compared to 2014. Imports over the full year from The Netherlands fell by 65% — from $29.7 million to $10.4 million.
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THE TRIAL OF THE UNBANKABLE UKRAINIAN OLIGARCHS – PINCHUK, KOLOMOISKY AND BOGOLYUBOV FORCED TO SETTLE OUT OF COURT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Gennady Bogolyubov, Victor Pinchuk, and Igor Kolomoisky (lead image, left to right), the three Ukrainian oligarchs who settled their business differences last Friday, were afraid to risk their bank credit lines if a High Court trial, scheduled to commence this week, went ahead. Sources close to the three men say it proved easier for them to agree on a secret money deal between themselves than to trust a British judge to assess their deal-making record in public.

“MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction – that was the outcome if the three oligarchs went into court against each other”, says one source. The sources confirm a report circulating in Kiev and another in Davos that Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov have agreed to pay Pinchuk $500 million in instalments over several years. The money may come from assets jointly owned by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov; these include Privat Bank, the Nikopol ferroalloy refinery, or the Krivoy Rog iron-ore combine, which has been the focus of the most recent dispute. Pinchuk’s public relations agent in London, William Clutterbuck, released the settlement announcement in a brief email. Lawyers and associates of Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov refuse to speak.

“The fact that this was settled at all,” comments one of Pinchuk’s creditors, “suggests Pinchuk’s case had some merit after all; that he was not about to run out of funding for his legal fees; and the defendants found the allegations about to be aired [in court] unduly embarrassing. This was a fist-fight in the ballroom of a sinking Titanic. Both sides have finally agreed to abandon their primary pursuit and head for the rescue vessels instead. They might even be sharing one.”
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COLD WAR, COLD SHOULDER – SERGEI LAVROV’S PASSING HAND LEAVES VICTORIA NULAND’S MOUTH GAPING, SIGNALS “DIRE DISTRESS”, AND MUCH MORE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, last Wednesday, January 20, with US Secretary of State, John Kerry. The meeting-room and press opportunity were set up by State Department officials. One of the Kerry delegation was Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian affairs. She is one of several Washington officials directing the war against Russia on the Ukraine front. In her arsenal, Nuland’s mouth has been used to attack European governments reluctant to join her war, as her “Fuck the EU” remark to US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, revealed at the start of 2014, before President Victor Yanukovich was ousted in Kiev.

The sequence of stills showing Lavrov greeting the US delegation for the press, ahead of the Zurich talks, has been extracted from a videotape recorded by a Russian press camera crew. Lavrov’s hand shakes every US official introduced by Kerry (1), except for Nuland. Her hand was extended (2), then slipped, or slapped past, as Lavrov turned to his left to greet each of the junior US officials lining the wall. As he did so, Lavrov presented Nuland with his right shoulder. Nuland’s mouth fell open (3); the microphones recorded that nothing came out.
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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS FIRES SECRET UKRAINE MISSILE TO DOWN MH17 VICTIM’S CASE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The European Court of Human Rights is refusing to act on a year-old case from the daughter of a Dutch passenger killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014. Denise Kenke, daughter of Willem Grootscholten, accuses the Ukraine Government of failing its legal duty to prevent civilian aircraft from flying into the airspace Ukrainian officials knew to be dangerous. Her court papers say the claim is also founded on the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board, reported last October, that the government in Kiev had been negligent in failing to act on “sufficient reason for closing the airspace above the eastern part of Ukraine”.

Although the 11-page application was filed on November 17, 2014, the Court has imposed a secrecy blackout on all details of the case, preventing website access. After Kenke’s lawyer, Elmar Giemulla of Berlin, a leading German aviation law specialist, filed additional argument, legal precedents, and evidence from the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), the Court refused to acknowledge receipt or to reply. Tracey Turner-Tretz, spokesman for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and its registrar, Roderick Liddell, a British national, said this week: “the application in question was granted confidentiality.”

Giemulla for the Grootscholten family said he had not applied for confidentiality, and was not informed by the court that it had been imposed. “I do not know anything about ‘grant of confidentiality’ . I do not even know whether the court has ever dealt with my complaint apart from internal administrative procedures.” When Liddell and his spokesman Turner-Tretz were asked what communication the Court has been having on the Kenke case with Ukraine government representatives, and whether Kiev had requested confidentiality, they refused to reply. A US attorney with a US and Ukraine practice says “it’s not possible for a US court to seal a case from public disclosure without argument in court by lawyers from both sides, and without a recorded ruling.” From Berlin, Giemulla said this morning: “Someone, I don’t know who, has decided that this case is confidential — from the plaintiff!”
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WATCH MY MOOSE LIPS — MORE SECRETS FROM THE YELTSIN CENTRE, INCLUDING ITS $220 MILLION COST

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Former President Boris Yeltsin’s passion for killing moose (boar, duck, hare, bear, deer) to feed his appetite for their small body parts, cooked or pickled, has been repeatedly attested in the memoirs of his staff . But the state-financed Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre, run by deputy executive director Vladimir Shevchenko, Yeltsin’s former chief of protocol, refuses to say that he ate moose lips even once.

“What are your goals in asking these questions?” Shevchenko telephoned to say, after the Centre had been requested to confirm that moose lips had been on the menu of a luncheon Yeltsin hosted for US President Bill Clinton January 13, 1994. Clinton referred to the dish of moose lips, and also pig’s ears, in a telephone conversation he had with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in a record declassified and released publicly earlier this month. Shevchenko said he is concerned by the moose lips question because of the presidential election campaign now under way in the US. Perhaps it can affect [Hillary] Clinton, he mused aloud. He wanted to know whether the question was being asked to strike at Clinton’s campaign. “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” Shevchenko asked – without divulging whether moose lips had been served 22 years ago last Tuesday.

The full story of Clinton’s secret conversations with Blair about Yeltsin was published yesterday. After the Yeltsin Centre refused requests to confirm the moose lips reference, and Shevchenko replied with his Clinton campaign question, he was asked to say what the presidential centre records show of how many moose Yeltsin had shot, and whether he had done so with the same hunting arrangements as characterized the famous hunter of the Soviet epoch, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.

“I am not going to tell you anything,” he replied. It was “provocative”, he added, to compare Yeltsin’s hunting and eating habits to former Soviet leader Brezhnev. “If you use Clinton sources, and search for your information there, I have the right to refute this.”
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BILL CLINTON AND TONY BLAIR – MOOSE LIPS SINK YELTSIN’S SHIPS, PUTIN’S TOO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

In the time of President Boris Yeltsin, there was no difference between loose lips and moose lips.

According to newly released records of President Bill Clinton’s secret conversations with Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a luncheon on January 13, 1994, Yeltsin served Clinton “roast pig and told me real men hack off the ears and eat them. And once he served 24 courses, including moose lips.” But Clinton and Blair didn’t think Yeltsin was a real man. They thought he was an ingratiating stooge, whom they could rely on to agree with them so long as his health held. When it didn’t, they were happy to see him out of the way by staging, as they discussed in the planning, his succession by Victor Chernomyrdin.

There’s many a slip between the cup of national interest and the lip of its betrayal. According to the Clinton records, Yeltsin tried them all. In secret he agreed to the US expanding NATO to include former East European and Balkan allies of Moscow. He dismissed the Russian opposition to that move as “a lot of old ladies out in the country”. He went along with the US war on Serbia and on Iraq, so long as Clinton fabricated a self-defence justification to keep it from a United Nations Security Council vote. He begged Clinton for money. Immediately after the financial crash and government default of August 1998 he asked Clinton to come to Moscow to reassure the world Yeltsin wasn’t culpable, and was still in charge. Clinton told Blair: “My relationship [with Yeltsin]… is such that all [Kremlin] hardliners believe I could talk to [him] and get him to sell the oil wells for three dollars and a half, but that’s not true. He’s just more far-sighted and progressive than they are.”
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ALEXEI KUDRIN PLAYS AMERICAN BALL — STRIKES OUT, AGAIN

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Every autumn, as regularly as trees change their colour, Alexei Kudrin (lead image), the one-time finance minister of Russia, attempts a putsch. And as regularly as leaves fall to the ground, he fails to seize the high office he thinks he deserves.

Counting the number of self-advertisements he has issued, Kudrin is the longest loser in Russian politics. Compared to other proteges of Anatoly Chubais – men like Mikhail Abyzov, Leonid Melamed, Valentin Zavadnikov, Alfred Kokh, Vladimir Kogan — Kudrin has managed to accumulate a relatively small fortune. He is also the only minister of state whom President Vladimir Putin has publicly diagnosed as having had an “emotional breakdown”. What Putin meant is that a Russian apparatchik who keeps failing to grab power and wealth, both, when opportunity knocks, must be psycho.
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US INVESTORS IN RAID AGAINST DMITRY FIRTASH – STEPHEN LYNCH ATTEMPTS TAKEOVER OF UKRAINIAN GAS PRODUCER, MISEN ENERGY

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash defeated a US government attempt last year to extradite him to the US for trial on corruption allegations. But now, encouraged by the US Government and by Ukrainian government officials in Kiev, a new group of US investors, led by Stephen Lynch (lead image) and the law firm Firestone Duncan, are targeting Firtash for a takeover of Misen Energy, an eastern Ukrainian gas producer which Firtash is believed to control. “We are slowly consolidating our position at Misen,” Lynch says, “and may move forward.”
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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.

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RUSSIAN REPORTING ON THE SECRETS OF THE COMMAND BUNKER UNDERNEATH AZOVSTAL



By Margarita Menshikova, translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On the day before Good Friday (Orthodox), Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported at the Kremlin to President Vladimir Putin that at Mariupol,  inside the Azovstal steel works, about two thousand troops remain underground, including foreigners. Putin issued the following order: “There is no need to penetrate these catacombs and crawl under these industrial facilities. Seal off the industrial zone completely.”  

Four days earlier on April 17, the Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov told the press that “up to four hundred foreign mercenaries were trapped [at Azovstal]… Most of them are citizens of European countries, as well as Canada. We have already reported earlier that radio conversations between militants in Mariupol are conducted in six foreign languages”  

Today, an unusually detailed report by the Moscow internet broadcaster Tsargrad was published to signal the strategic significance and political value of the NATO officers in their command bunker under Azovstal.

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