FALSE DMITRY WAS TRUER THAN SANTA, BUT BEAR’S WISH FOR YOUR NEW YEAR IS TRUEST OF ALL

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s been 412 years since the last foreign-arranged regime change that worked at the Kremlin — if briefly, and if you don’t count Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton. .

False Dmitry I (lead picture) was, to start with, the stooge of the Polish king and the Pope. Dmitry – aka Yury Otrepiev, aka Monarkh Grishka – had a few ideas of his own, one of which is still in the Kremlin drawer. That’s an alliance of Christian Europe against the Turks. Dmitry I was assassinated by the Muscovite oligarchs of the time. Then False Dmitry II, pretending to be the first, appeared on the Polish border, claiming the assassination had been fake news.  He too was hacked – er, dismembered — as was Marina, the lady who had been wife, mother and co-plotter of both ill-fated schemes.

But she may have survived. Her descendants are tweeting in Washington at this very moment. And in Warsaw, London, and NATO HQ in Brussels.  They oblige us to be on the alert for their False Dmitry schemes. Only the New Year will show for sure how many False Dmitry’s there are, and besides them, what is true, honest, real.

And so, dear readers, it’s our New Year wish that your eyesight will stay as discerning and sharp as the tip of our pen.

ALEXEI MORDASHOV PREPARES $400 MILLION DOLLAR TAKEOVER OF CANADIAN GOLDMINER – HIT AND RUN FOR KREMLIN FOREIGN INVESTMENT BAN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alexei Mordashov (lead image, top left), the mining and metals oligarch, promised President Vladimir Putin (centre) that in future he would stick to investing in Russia. “We did a great deal of work abroad,” he told  the President, “but came to the conclusion that our future lies primarily in Russia, in the Russian market, and our production here is most efficient. We sold the North American division and are focusing almost entirely on our Russian assets.” That was on January 19, 2015.

Mordashov was back in front of Putin at the Kremlin this week, telling him on December 19: “I would also like to ask you not to reduce the level of your cooperation.”  What Mordashov didn’t tell Putin was how much he has invested in Canadian goldmining over the past year, and how much more, according to Russian and Canadian sources,  he is planning to invest next year. That may come to $400 million if a gold prospect in French Guiana, owned by a Canadian mining company, turns out to be El Dorado when a report Mordashov is preparing on the exploration results and gold value is due to be released next March.  (more…)

OLIGARCHS ON THE SKIDS* – PRESIDENT PUTIN GOES DOWN MARKET FOR CAPITAL RECEPTION – NEXT YEAR LABOUR UNION BOSSES

By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin hosted his annual supper for the largest holders of capital in Russia on Monday evening. Compared to his table in December 2015, he added 15 extra seats, and for the first time men of little capital have been invited. Representatives of small business and even one Moscow house builder with a reputation for destroying city heritage sites were seated too. With a first-time invitation to sit down  also came rehabilitation for Sergei Frank, chief executive of the state shipping company Sovcomflot, whose business practices have been judged by the British High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court to be dishonest

Putin’s address was shorter than usual. “Despite the unfavourable situation on the global markets and in the political sphere,” he said, “we have indeed seen changes for the better. We have succeeded in stabilising the situation in the economy. This is a clear and evident fact today. We need now to set in place a strategy for confident growth, and this is something we can achieve together. Of course, there are still many outstanding problems and many reasons for dissatisfaction. There is still much to change and improve in order to feel more confident. But at least we all agree what we need to do, how we need to do it, and what timeframe is realistic.” (more…)

ROSNEFT TRIES 3-MONKEY SOLUTION FOR ITS SHARE SALE PROBLEM, ITALIANS AND SWISS TOO

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, which was reported last week as the principal lender to Rosneft’s €11 billion share sale, has announced it has played an advisory role, not a lending role, and it is still in the “assessment phase” of the transaction — without a commitment to lend money.

On December 7, Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin told President Vladimir Putin “we will receive the first money transfers from our foreign investors in the next few days”. Rosneft announced at the same time “the acquisition of the Rosneft stake will be financed with investors’ own funds and will also involve debt financing. Investors’ equity in the acquiring vehicle will amount to EUR2.8 bn. The bulk of debt financing will be provided by Banca Intesa Sanpaolo.” Glencore, the Swiss trading company which is one of the two reported foreign share-buyers, alongside the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), announced in parallel that “Glencore will commit €300 million in equity and QIA will commit €2.5 billion in equity to the Consortium with the balance of the consideration for the acquisition of the Shares to be provided by non-recourse bank financing, principally by Intesa Sanpaolo S.pA..”

On Monday afternoon, at the bank’s head office in Milan, Intesa Sanpaolo issued an 11-line statement claiming there is no loan, financing or investment agreement by the bank for the Rosneft transaction, at least not yet; and that the bank’s “possible participation in the operation is conditional, first of all, on total support for the sanctions system adopted by the EU and US towards entities of the Russian Federation.” The bank also said it has so far done no more than act as advisor to Rosneftegaz, Rosneft’s parent shareholder, “which has not been subject of any sanction.”

In Moscow Sechin was asked through his spokesman, Mikhail Leontyev, to respond to the bank’s announcement. “How do you square this position with the Rosneft and Glencore statements of last week, confirming the bank as the principal lender to the deal?” Sechin and Leontyev refuse to answer.
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INFO-WARFARE LEAVES SCARS ON WEBSITE

By John Helmer, Moscow

The old Russian expression from sword-fighting days was “Scars adorn the man” (ШРАМЫ УКРАШАЮТ МУЖЧИНУ – lead image, top). But in the Russian pun (А ШМАРЫ УКРОЩАЮТ — lead image, bottom), do prostitutes “tame” the man? Appearances can be deceiving but not us.

Website attacks have intensified since the report last week of Igor Sechin’s Rosneft share transaction. Russian reporters attempting to cover the story by questioning the Swiss authorities about Glencore’s agreements, and Bank Intesa Saopaolo’s purported financing of the deal, say they have been ordered off the story by their managing editors. Italian and Swiss reporters will be publishing shortly. New York and Washington colleagues, Yves Smith and Alex Floum, have republished the story so that it can survive intact.

The info-warriors have left scars on the website’s reflexes and illustrations which will take time to remove. For the time being, they don’t obstruct the sense. You be the judge, and let us know.

URGENT MESSAGE FROM THE RAMPARTS — WEBSITE UNDER NEW ATTACK

By John Helmer, Moscow

Captain Bear to bear artillerymen: “If they know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, let them eat curds and honey. I told you, curds with a ‘c’. Now look what you’ve dropped on them.”

Sanitary notice for readers: if there’s a problem reading the latest news-breaking stories at www.johnhelmer.online, try johnhelmer.online. For password, open bible at the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 7, Section 15, and click.

THE ROSNEFT SHARE SALE IS A GENUINE PIECE OF UNHACKED RUSSIAN FAKE NEWS, THE TRUTH OF WHICH THE SWISS GOVERNMENT HAS ORDERED GLENCORE TO PRODUCE FOR US GOVERNMENT INSPECTION, SO EVERYONE WILL KNOW THE TRUTH EXCEPT THE RUSSIANS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

As famous hoaxers go, Igor Sechin (lead image, centre), the chief executive of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, is at least as clever as Clever Hans (right), a German horse of the late 19th century.

Hans was apparently good at arithmetic. If his owner asked him to multiply three by four, he would tap his hoof twelve times. He could tell the square root of sixteen by tapping four times. He was also able to give answers to questions he hadn’t heard before. So he was a very famous horse in Germany. That was until a sceptical psychologist realized Hans would only get the answers right if his owner also knew the answers, and if the horse could see him when the questions were asked. If the owner or another questioner was invisible to the horse’s eye, Hans would fail. He even bit the psychologist after a string of tests produced wrong answers. The psychologist’s conclusion was that the horse was gifted, but not at arithmetic. Hans could detect the visual cues his questioner would give out when the horse was reaching the correct number of hoof taps, and he would stop.  The owner wasn’t attempting a fraud, and Hans was exceptionally intelligent. But his calculations were a hoax.

In last week’s Rosneft share sale — the deal President Vladimir Putin has called the biggest privatization in Russia, and also the biggest oil sector sell-off in the world this year — clever Igor, like clever Hans, has proved his indubitable intelligence. But the arithmetic which the president has announced — €10.5 billion paid into the Russian state budget – is a hoax. That’s because a curtain has been drawn across all questions of where the money has come from.

In fact, Kremlin and Russian banking sources acknowledge, the money originated from the Central Bank of Russia, recycled through the Russian state banks to Rosneft and back, and finally concealed inside secret fiduciary agreements with a consortium of Glencore, the Swiss trading company, and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), an Arabian Gulf state agency.  The agreements appear to make Glencore and QIA the owners of a 19.5% shareholding in Rosneft – when they are fiduciary shareholders – and that’s not the same thing as owners.

“The transaction has been financed by money creation by the Central Bank”, said a source close to the dealmakers.  “The Central Bank can’t simply print money and give it to the federal budget. So this deal was engineered for Glencore and the Qataris to appear to be buying shares when the terms of the agreement reward them for acting as fiduciaries, but ensure they cannot vote the shares without instruction from the Russian state; that’s Mr Sechin. This means the privatization of the shares isn’t genuine. Also, three-quarters of the money going into the state budget is coming from the Central Bank.”

A Russian banker in London comments: “There’s a golden rule in Russian banking. If you fiddle around, never involve foreigners because in the end they will expose you. The announced terms of the Rosneft deal cannot stand the light of day. Inevitably, the truth will come out.” According to Swiss sources, the truth has already been demanded by the US Government of the Swiss Government, which will obtain the contracts from Glencore.

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REAL NEWS ABOUT FAKE BUBBLES – RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT RUNS A QUALITY TEST ON CHAMPAGNE BEFORE THE PARTY SEASON

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Russian champagne is like fake news in the Washington Post; and Gresham’s Law on counterfeit money.  The supply of fake champagne, including fake bubbles, is now driving the genuine stuff out of the market. A study, released in Moscow last week by the new state agency, Russian Quality System (Roskachestvo), reveals that 30% of a sampling of the sparkling wines currently being sold on the Russian market fail both Russian and international standards. That’s because they contain artificially enhanced carbon dioxide; sugar additives such as ethanol; abnormally large volumes of preservatives such as sulphur dioxide; and false labelling and packaging to cover up.

This is wine soda pop — a new beverage category created in the Russian alcohol regulations in 2012. Adding carbon dioxide artificially is not prohibited by the Russian legislation, but “it’s legalized counterfeit,” says Vadim Drobiz, head of Centre for Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets (TsIFRRA) in Moscow. And the volume is rising, as champagne imports and domestic sparkling wine consumption drop. (more…)

AMAZON.COM ANNOUNCES ALL PRODUCTS MAY BE DEFECTIVE – RUSSIAN FAKE NEWS AND KREMLIN PROPAGANDA TO BLAME FOR FUTURE BILLION-DOLLAR COLLAPSE OF SALES, SHARE PRICE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Amazon.com Incorporated makes annual sales of $107 billion, growing at a rate of 30% so far this year. The market capitalization of its shares is currently $366 billion, increasing by 14%. Imagine what would happen to both if the control shareholder and chief executive of the company, Jeffrey Bezos (lead image),  ordered Amazon.com to issue a disclaimer with every transaction that Amazon does not vouch for the delivery of goods to their buyers, nor that its goods will work according to Amazon’s advertising.

That no-vouch, no-truth disclaimer was published overnight by one of the advertising and promotion agencies of the Bezos group, the Washington Post (WaPo).  Bezos bought the loss-making publication in 2013 for $250 million through an entity he created for the takeover called Nash Holdings LLC.  Nash Holdings is Bezos’ s private affair, with only a Delaware registration, a post office box and a telephone number in Seattle to show for itself.  Media industry analysts believe WaPo continues to be loss-making, as it was before the Bezos takeover, but the losses are now covered by Amazon income deposited in Nash Holdings; by loss offsets allowed by the Internal Revenue Service; and by Bezos’s plan to make more money selling the devices on which to read WaPo than the newspaper’s cost of production.    

Responding to consumer protests that WaPo’s reading material on Russia is defective and false, and that its reporter on Russian propaganda, Craig Timberg,  is a fabricator,  the newspaper announced last night that it  “does not itself vouch for the validity” of what it publishes about Russia, the recent US presidential election, or American democracy. For “validity”, the Washington Post’s editors mean truth. For “does not vouch for”, they mean what Nash Holdings and Bezos are calculating as a put-call option on lying. (more…)

HANGING ON — OLEG DERIPASKA’S RUSAL FACES BILLION-DOLLAR DROP IN NIGERIA

Young man hanging on to edge of cliff, close-up (focus on fingers)

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska, control shareholder of Rusal, the Russian state aluminium monopoly, is the leading investor of Russian funds in offshore businesses which have failed. He is also Russia’s largest corporate debtor.  Noone else in the circle of President Vladimir Putin has performed so improvidently and unpatriotically.

When the costs are counted of last month’s Nigerian High Court ruling against Rusal’s ownership of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon), and the ruling expected from the same court in Abuja next week, Rusal is facing a liability and compensation judgement amounting to $2.8 billion. That’s one-third of Rusal’s annual sales revenues; it’s also one-third of Rusal’s gross debt, and almost half its current market capitalization on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.   Not a single metals analyst or investment banker in Moscow dares to acknowledge the case, or analyse the risk now facing Rusal from the Nigerian courts and its government.  (more…)

THIS IS MOSCOW CALLING! PARDON THE INTERRUPTION

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By John Helmer, Moscow

If you can read this, you missed an attack on this website. It started, coincidentally, when the Moscow office day commenced. The general commanding our rocket forces forbids us to reveal  the method of attack and  how it was intercepted and zapped, restoring our coverage of stories like this one on Alexei Mordashov’s takeover of the goldminer Northquest. Click

Not that he and Nordgold would have anything to do with this morning’s attack on our website. But if  he and the Nordgold raiders try to attack Toronto-listed Columbus Gold, their next target according to a leading Canadian gold market source, we are ready.  “The Canadian rules need to change,” the source recommends, “so that the resisting minority shareholders get to put forward their own third-party valuation as a comparison to the one done by the newly formed Board of the acquirer.  This would at least give a high and low valuation which could be subject to mediation.”

RUSSIAN ART TAKES A REFRESHING BATH — NEW LONDON ROUND OF RUSSIAN ART AUCTIONS ATTRACTS MORE MONEY

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The price of Russian art this week at the bellwether London auction house sales has risen by more than a third over a year ago, signalling that more money is available to spend, with more confidence that Russian paintings will more than hold their value for investors in the year ahead.  While Americans and Europeans were the big-ticket sellers, sources in the bidding rooms say the biggest spenders were Russians. (more…)

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.

(more…)
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